The sold out King Tut’s is already heaving as support act Radkey treat the crowd to a fiery set of pissed-off punk rock.
The young group hail from St Joseph’s, Missouri, a location better known for being the site of the murder of outlaw Jesse James than its musical exports but that might all be about to change however, because right now Radkey rival Metz for being the best real punk band in the world today.
Comprised of three teenage brothers, Dee Radke on guitar/vocals, Isaiah Radke on bass/vocals and the impossibly young looking Solomon Radke on drums, they’ve got bags of attitude, great tunes and the ability to transmit all this to a rapidly impressed audience.
Heavily influenced by The Ramones and The Misfits, Dee’s deep voice is reminiscent of Glenn Danzig at the height of his powers, lending a heavyweight punch to their short, sharp songs.
Isaiah scissor kicks and falls to the floor, writhes on the stage and leaps to his feet as the trio plunder tracks from their recent Cat & Mouse EP alongside a few others slated for inclusion on their upcoming debut album.
With a last call to keep it sleazy the trio depart the stage but this won’t be last time you hear from these young hell raisers.
In contrast to their highly energetic support band, our headliners tonight are noticeably more laid back, slouching on stage to set up their gear and not even leaving to make a dramatic entrance.
Their anti-PR posters see the duo sat hands in pockets looking bemused against a white back drop while their recent Jools Holland appearance saw them playing alongside hip-hop A-lister Kanye West so it’s easy to imagine Drenge are little overwhelmed by how far and fast they’ve blown up.
Luckily when they launch into ‘Gun Crazy’ all traces of apprehension are forgotten and it seems as if all you have to do is sit back and let the noise wash over you.
For all the comparisons to The Black Keys and The White Stripes the duo’s wall of noise bares not a trace of the blues.
Instead their crunching riffs draw equally from punkish garage-rock and early nineties shoegaze as drummer Eoin Loveless flails away with his hair falling into his eyes.
He probably won’t win any awards for technical ability but his drumming is simple and inventive; the perfect foil for his brothers amped up sound.
Like My Bloody Valentine stamping on the accelerator or Siamese Dream-era Smashing Pumpkins the guitar blowout of ‘Dogmeat’ hits a critical mass of ear-busting riff rock, while the superlative ‘Bloodsports’ remains one of the best singles of the past twelve months.
Most interestingly however the duo’s closer ‘Fuckabout’ is transformed into a very different beast; on record it’s lumbering and ponderous but live it reveals an ear for textures that could serve them well in the future.
Rory Loveless stands sideways to the audience, rarely acknowledging them for more than a few words at a time but the crowd don’t seem to mind.
Though it takes a couple of tracks before the mob start bouncing, once they do the zeal is infectious and King Tut’s is transformed into a pogoing pit of eager fans.
Drenge continue to do things with their own terms.
As the sweaty throng would attest, they’ve made no mistakes thus far.
Words: Max Sefton
Photos: John Graham