When the large proportion of new wave, ‘classic’ sounding, indie bands are victims of falling into stereotypical behaviour (drink, drugs, tracksuits, ‘lads banter’), it asks interesting questions about parts of our culture. When, and why, did replicating unpleasant behaviours of Britpop become something to aspire towards, and be admired for?
Of the new wave, certainly the most interesting bands have been those who recognise, then play with, these institutionalised acts of conformity.
The stage presence of the DMA’s most certainly take some parts of indie 101 (swagger, closed stage presence, limited movement, sportswear) yet mix it with something few of the Brit Puppets seemed to have – genuine confidence. The type of confidence which isn’t afraid to show you that the swagger is only temporary and that there’s always a come down after a high.
Mirroring this confidence into their music, the DMAs are able to blend the head-high, major key, in your face attitude of indie (‘Lay down’ and ‘Warsaw’), with slower, more melancholic, minor key moments (‘Step up the morphine’, ‘In the air’ and ‘Delete’), and most certainly it’s these contradictions which have make the DMAs such an interesting act. When frontman Thomas O’Dell (himself a fine mix of tracksuit swagger and beautifully precise vocals) sings ‘sometimes I wonder why we bother at all’ in ‘Step up’ before ‘So great, don’t wait’ in ‘Delete’ you understand that this is a band confident to talk about every human emotion; those that hurt and those that heal.
Tonight’s highlights (‘In the air’ and ‘Warsaw’) finds lead guitarist Matthew Mason (himself a mixture of school bully and deeply emotive guitar player) in brilliant form, happy to stand in the shadows until the right moment before jumping onto a (slightly) raised platform and letting the audience see his playing. It’s a guitar style that matches well with O’Dell’s stationary, yet highly emotional, vocal style.
The DMA’s prove tonight that the best of indie has always been those parts most bands are unable to reach.