At last: a post about Dry the River!

I’ve waited a while before posting about my favourite band, but I think it’s right to do it now considering that I saw them live on Friday.

Dry the River are a five-piece band based in London, although they generally tour for over 300 days a year. Originally from the Reading music scene and all in different bands, they were formed in 2009 when frontman Pete Liddle was still at university, struggling to revise for medical exams when the guitar was calling. Needless to say he never qualified as a doctor after the band started to get somewhere! They consist of Pete (lead vocals/guitar), Scott Miller (bass/vocals/glockenspiel), Matthew Taylor (guitar/vocals), Will Harvey (violin/keys) and Jon Warren (drums). As I sing their praises to people, I’m often asked what kind of music they create. The best way I’ve found to describe it so far is “indie-folk/rock”. The band themselves like to say it’s “quiet and loud”. The sheer musicality of every band member is incredible. Pete Liddle’s songwriting is a wonder and the lyrics read like a novel. Their debut album Shallow Bed, released in April this year, is unique and atmospheric and the best, most complete collection of songs I’ve come across. It’s easy to see where the band draw influences from, having all previously been in prog or post-hardcore rock bands except for Will, the violinist, of course! The crashing finale of Lion’s Den offers a glimpse of their performances on stage, yet the quiet melodies on Bible Belt and Shaker Hymns convey the song-writing talents wonderfully.

Having seen them once before in Edinburgh, I immediately booked tickets to see them again in York when they announced a short tour of the U.K. So last Friday I journeyed down to a club called Fibbers in York, and, for the second time, I was blown away.

I was intrigued to listen to the two support acts, and I was pleasantly surprised by the caliber of the first, another folk/rock five-piece from Hull called Last Winter Dance Party. Their solid two-part harmonies dominated their short set, as did the quiet yet ever-present riffs of the electric guitar. I was also pleased to see the appearance of a trumpet player among their members! Check them out, LWDP are definitely ones to watch.

The second act, admittedly very good, were a tad painful on my ears. Arcane Roots are touring with Dry the River, and although they emanate some of the high-pitched vocals and guitars of DtR, they were INCREDIBLY loud, bordering on screamo at points in their set. Vocalist and guitarist Andrew Groves is, I feel, wasted in the band. His talents are impressive yet lost in the noise that is their live performance. I still can’t believe how three men be so loud!

When Dry the River finally came on to a grateful crowd, as usual they did not disappoint. The songs mostly start acoustically, building with soaring harmonies and violins before becoming grand-scale rock songs. They chat with the crowd between songs, as Peter changes between the seemingly hundreds of guitars he owns, and also to give the band a breather as they do like to dance and stomp around a bit on stage! At one point they turned the mics away and started a crowd favourite, “Weights & Measures”, acoustically, unplugged and with three-part harmony. It still astounds me how grown men who rock out like they’re in a hard-core metal band can produce such stunning vocals.

After an amazing set, they came out again to much applause from the eager crowd. They walked down and stood in the middle of the crowd and played Shaker Hymns and it was the best song of the night. Pete, Scott, Matt and Will huddled together without the aid of drummer, Jonny, and again the harmonies created a silence from the crowd. We clicked, not clapped, along after prompting from Scott, and, as I sat on the barrier, watching above everyone else’s heads, I realised the benefits of liking bands that are not-quite-famous. When would you see Coldplay being able to come down and stand among a silenced crowd, without anyone talking or trying to disturb the band?!

Another benefit is that the band are also able to come out to say hello at the end without being mobbed. I got a photo with Scott, a signed CD case from Jon and a guitar pick and rare photo with Peter, who hardly ever comes out! They are the nicest guys you’ll ever meet, hardly living up their tattooed appearance. To top it all off, it was snowing as I left at 11 o’clock, knowing that I wasn’t going to be able to sleep for a long, long time.

If you haven’t checked DtR out, PLEASE do. They are incredible, a breath of fresh air in the music world. I was reticent to post about them as I want them to remain a hidden gem, well-known enough to create a decent turn-out at gigs and yet still able to chat amongst their fans. But I feel like they need “bigging-up” as they are simply amazing. They’ve promised that they won’t be touring again until they’ve recorded their second album next year, but as I wait for that I’ll be listening to the acoustic version of their album they’ve somehow managed to record during their insanely busy year, that comes out just in time for Christmas and which I think is such a good idea.

Below is the video of their surprise Youtube hit (and personal favourite of mine) Bible Belt, filmed for WLT back in 2010 (when the band had distinctly less tattoos and less hair!) and also the highlights video of their summer tour diaries for Vevo, which provide an entertaining half hour if watched in order.

Find DtR on Facebook here: http://www.facebook.com/drytheriver?ref=ts&fref=ts

And their website here: http://www.drytheriver.net/gb/home/

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