The Horn, St Albans. Easily one of the best small venues around right now, and easily the best in the local area. The last few months alone have seen some killer sets from bands like Strange Bones, BlackWaters, 485C, Fiende Fatale and Fatherson to name but a few, and last Sunday evening (26/03) saw a secret headline set from raw grunge rockers Darlia. Juicebox had heavily advertised and promoted this gig, with a building sense of anticipation and excitement as to who the secret headliners would be. To see Darlia in such an intimate and personal setting was unreal, and they performed an absolutely killer set.
The gig opened with Raze, an intense four piece who blend gunge rock with hardcore punk/ metal elements. I was really impressed by the heaviness and brash abrasive style of their music, which had a really bold grunge sound to it. They shook the stage completely, and had this attitude and front which made their sound even more aggressive and intense.
Similar to bands like The Kenneths, Marmozets and Alexisonfire, Raze had a blinding stage presence which was explosive. There’s a sense of electrifying hectic intensity to the band, and this made them a really bold gritty act to catch live. The Horn accommodates for a lot of heavy punk/ grunge bands, and has recently seen acts like Tilt Back and No Idea grace the stage; seeing Raze was thrilling, and the vivid grunge rawness they have was infectious. The thing I liked the most about Raze’s set was the guitar; with one lead guitarist (Ethan) and a bass guitarist (Ashley), the band used crazy amped up effects to give the guitar sound a more metal grunge edge, similar to bands like Pearl Jam and The Smashing Pumpkins. Elements of their music also reminded me of heavy punk groups like Gallows. As well as performing a series of original tracks, the band did a System Of The Down cover, made extra raucous and heavy by Louis’ authentic metal vocal. The band have a series of live dates coming up, including a Battle of the Bands show at The Horn later on this month. For updates on Raze you can follow the band on Facebook, and listen via SoundCloud.
The next support band to play were Calling of The Fly, an alternative rock band from the local area. They were a good band, with solid riffs and a very excited crowd who were composed of fans who had clearly come down to catch their set. What I liked the most about them was their original tracks; as with any band, original material is always far better, and the original tracks they did do were unique and fun, with bold catchy riffs. However, the band performed a series of covers too, including a Queens of The Stone Age rendition and covers of She’s Long Gone by The Black Keys and R U Mine? by Arctic Monkeys. Had the covers maybe had a more original spin on them I think I’d have enjoyed the set a lot more, but they lacked the confidence and attitude a band need to pull off a good cover. Despite this though their set was enjoyable and they helped build up the anticipation and excitement in the venue for Darlia’s set.
And then for Darlia. I’ve been a huge fan of this band for a good few years now since hearing debut single Queen of Hearts, so you can imagine my excitement when Luke Hinton (owner of Juicebox) messaged me saying Darlia would be playing. The Blackpool based band are overseeing a wave of grunge rock in the industry, and their music has this wonderfully abrasive DIY rock edge. Their set was blinding, and they drew heavy moshing and brilliant crowd interaction from the off. What I like the most about Darlia is the raw attitude they have, and their crass front and ‘no shit’ aura. They’re loud and messy and just embody the filth and rawness of DIY grunge perfectly. Darlia are an exciting guitar rock band, and for anyone who says the current rock music scene is lacking, Darlia alone are proof of the vibrant state of modern day rock music. Darlia played a blinding set too, rounding off with fan favourite Queen of Hearts. The crowd were mental too, with moshpits and mini circle pits forming and fans dancing and crowd surfing throughout the venue. The band were loving it too, and Nathan had the attitude and passion a frontman needs which he channelled brilliantly on stage. It was a filthy, raucously wild set from the band, and Darlia have proven themselves as one of the most exciting live bands right now, on par with heavy gungy rock bands like Mummy and October Drift. Darlia will be on tour this May with Twin Atlantic and The Pale White, and will play Community day festival on July 1st with Catfish and The Bottlemen, Slaves, and more. For tickets and to keep up to date with Darlia, you can visit their website here.
Gig rating: ★★★☆☆
© Photo credit: Sahera Walker