– GULLIVERS, MANCHESTER –
A wiser man than I once said, “writing about music is like dancing about architecture”, and although I don’t usually buy into this façade, nights like this make me think otherwise.
In a poorly lit attic above a pub in the heart of the Northern Quarter, the future of British psychedelic rock has just appeared before my eyes. They are called Dusst, and they’ve just performed possibly the best gig I’ve ever been to.
The night starts with a set from Lavender. As the lead singer, who was dressed in a Bill Cosby-esque jumper, places his beer can on the floor, a line of feedback slices through the air, cutting through the hustle and bustle of this small venue. The crowd, who were previously stood sparsely around the room, now merge together, forming a 30 strong cohort, all adorned in the worst collection of flairs since Woodstock ’69, ready to witness the onslaught of hard hitting, psych-rock that lies ahead…
Their music is almost schizophrenic, going from an Echoes-period Pink Floyd slow jam to an Arctic Monkeys indie floor filler within a moment’s notice, with the only consistencies in the tracks coming from the drummers hi-hat fills that even Topper Headon would be proud of, and the low rumbling bass that acts as the undercurrent throughout their whole set.
All the members stand motionless, in the eye of musical storm they are creating, bar the singer, who occasionally takes a swig of his can and stumbles about the stage, like Bambi on ice. And as their set dwindles, the singer, now five cans down, unplugs his mic, and sits down; a cue for the rest of the band to ensue the joyful carnage they are creating. As he stumbles off stage, clearly worse for wares, the bassist smirks… The rest of the band look less than impressed.
As the audience of beret wearing hipsters slowly filter out of the venue, I stand in silent anticipation, watching, waiting for Dusst to come.
Eventually 5 Liverpudlians saunter on stage, one carrying a bongo, another a keyboard in hand and a tambourine around his neck. Even during their soundcheck I nod along to the little jams the band are having. However, as the time comes closer for their set to start, the venue remains empty. An awkward tension rises through the air, and both the band and all five people in the room hope the venue fills out, both for different reasons.
The awkward silence continues as the venue starts to re-fill, only being broken by the lead singer saying, “fucking smokers, I don’t endorse it”. After another few moments of silence, they are ready. It begins…
Their music is the perfect mix of all your favourite late 60’s psychedelic rock bands. Their drummer, looking like Ginger Baker and Michael Fassbender’s lovechild, hammers away at his drums, producing cascading drum fills that even Mr Baker would be envious of. This, mixed with their swirling guitar licks, smooth slick basslines and Doors-esque mellow keyboards, echo around the small, Victorian attic, causing the crowd to enter an almost trance-like state, transporting all members of this congregation away from the cold Manchester night, and bringing everyone on some sort of musical voyage through the decades, back to the summer of love, with Clapton-esque lead licks and smooth soft keys acting as their preferred mode of transport. And as the band finish their last and possibly best track of the night, ‘Somehow’, we are all laid gracefully back into this grey bleak winter’s night, none of us quite sure how to process what has just happened.
And as Wild Birds of Britain take centre stage, we are whisked away again, this time by a much darker, heavier sound, with songs like ‘Eastern Winds’ providing an equally psychedelic sound, with slightly darker overtones.
I could write at length about how amazing these bands were live, and it would still be a huge injustice to how good the night was.
In a scene that already has the likes of King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard and Tame Impala in its ranks, it seems that the psychedelic scene is the place to be for exciting, au courant music, and although from the outside in, it might’ve seemed like just another gig, the feeling in the room leaves me with a different impression.
In a world where most bands seem to be content with reproducing and replicating each other’s sound, it’s truly refreshing to see a scene where the mantra is more rooted in recycling sounds rather than reproducing them. These soon to be heavy hitters should surely have no issue establishing themselves as one of the next big psych rock bands to leave our shores, and conquer the psyche of teenage stoners all over the world.