Friday, September 29, 2017

Something Special

Facing a three-way clash on the Saturday afternoon at the recent End of the Road festival, I used Luke Rhinehart's The Dice Man method of making a choice and ended up seeing all of Bill Ryder-Jones, most of Nadine Shah but none of DUDS. I bitterly regretted missing out on the Mancunian band, whose 2016 EPs, Unfit For Work and Wet Reduction, I had heard on Marc Riley's show. However, on returning from the festival I found out they were playing in Brighton in a mere few weeks, so all was not lost.

That date rolled around last night and I went off to the Green Door Store expecting to hear the quirky guitars and skittering post-punk rhythms of their previous output. I was not disappointed: there was clear evidence in their sound of angular bands like early XTC and Scritti Politti; but what I was not expecting was how dynamic their stage performance would be and how their music seems to have moved on in the past 12 months. To begin with, they have expanded from a band of four to a seven-piece, incorporating vocals, two guitars, bass, drums, percussion, trumpet and cornet; also, they massed on the tiny stage all dressed in identical dark grey short sleeve shirts and trousers, making them seem like a gang and creating an imposing presence; and the sheer ferocity of the playing took the breath away.

With the expansion of the band, DUDS' sound has developed into a full-on dissonant No Wave experience. Incredibly tight, the bass, drums and percussion were a rhythmic assault and the discordant guitars and blasting brass gave no let-up: with no song longer than a couple of minutes, their brief and relentless - and encoreless set - left the audience exhausted and in no doubt they had witnessed something special.

They finished with No Remark, the opening track of their just-released album, Of A Nature Or Degree (12 tracks, 23 minutes). I picked up a copy at the merch stall afterwards and, chatting to the band, it came as no surprise that their music is characterised by short bursts of rhythmical energy when they cited The Contortions, Blurt and Wire as influences.

Of A Nature Or Degree is out now on Castle Face Records.

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