Notes On… Dignan Porch, Rice Milk, Baker Island @ Head of Steam, Newcastle

Saturday nights are built for… DIY fuzz-fests. What did you think I was going to say? With Dignan Porch stopping off on the second night of their mini UK tour, supported by two of the north east’s premier purveyors of offbeat indie, the Head of Steam became a haven of reverb on an otherwise bleak Saturday night.

Newcastle natives Baker Island kicked things off with wonky, reverb-drenched indie that packs more of a punch live. Their recent album Bobby Hundreds was a splash of exuberance wrapped up in a cloth of impossible time signatures and a complete disregard for structure. As a result, they could be forgiven if they were slightly shambolic in the live execution. But while there was a slightly raggedy edge to all the tracks they played – including some newer songs – most of their output actually sounded tighter and bouncier than on record. With some killer bass notes, pounding drums and fierce chords all underpinned with witty lyrics and observations, Baker Island seem to continually be adding to their sound and keep getting better for it.

Fellow Geordies Rice Milk were almost like the breather in-between the two bulkier acts. Being only a duo with guitar and drums, it’s definitely more stripped-back than Baker Island’s set up, but it’s still amazing what kind of sound they can get out of such few instruments. They rely on interesting melodies and skill, throwing out a number of lo-fi DIY tunes that are often short in length but definitely not short on ideas. Admittedly Craig Pollard’s falsetto vocals might divide the audience but on more quick-fire tracks like ‘Magpie,’ where the lyrics are delivered at a faster pace, his voice just adds to the charm. For anyone who similarly found his vocal range endearing, their set was a treat.

Dignan Porch come on and proceed to provide forty-five minutes of lo-fi indie rock drenched in swathes of fuzz and a real slacker mentality. The South Londoners know how to make a racket and are totally unafraid to do so even in the tiny confines of the Head of Steam. Their set is pure DIY, sometimes punctuated by shoegaze flourishes and smatterings of analogue synths that help to effectively break up the squall. They’re undoubtedly more abrasive live, and maybe some of the details of some tracks gets occasionally lost in the waves of reverb, particularly when it comes to Joe’s voice, but it’s balanced by an infectious energy that’s embedded into the set. They ended with ‘Out of the Picture,’ once a pick for Art Is Hard’s Hand Cut Record Club and with good reason: it’s probably their finest song. Twinkling synth, melancholy vocal delivery and drum breaks in the bridge add up to being probably the most memorable tune in their collection so far. Plus it’s their keyboardist’s dad’s favourite tune. The man has taste.

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