Over the past year, Leeds-via-Wakefield trio Drahla have built up a reputation for producing an economical but brutally effective sound. Economical being the key word to describe their gig at The Hope & Ruin on Tuesday night, too, as in just over 30 minutes they had been and gone. However, due to their ragged guitar lines, resounding bass, and drawled vocals delivered alternately by Luciel Brown and Rob Riggs, they more than made a good impression. On this performance, it’s easy to see why they’ve been out on tour with the likes of Ought and METZ, signed to Captured Tracks, as well as currently working with MJ from Hookworms in the studio.
Opening on the night were Worthing’s noisy post-punk duo, Bellydancer. Despite suffering from a broken string a few songs in, this was an impressive set that was encapsulated by brand-new single ‘Troll’, which was released as part of a double A-side on the day of the gig. The song is led by a barbaric bassline that evokes the likes of Hotel Lux and Madonnatron, with both members, Simon and Sam, delivering dark, sadistic vocals. However, the sound in a live setting lacks that extra punch that a drummer would give them.
Instantly, the most impressive aspect to Drahla is their cut-throat attitude. They offer up deadpan accuracy throughout, with 2016’s ‘Fictional Decision’ a highlight of the night. While Brown and Riggs remain mostly static throughout the night, their beautiful rhythmic repetitions and taught coils of post-punk certainly do the talking for them. ‘Fictional Decisions’ offers up a stinging, rebellious riff, and their distinctive bass-heavy sound falls somewhere extraordinarily between Wire and Sonic Youth. “I am the passage, I am the passage, between you and something,” chants Luciel Brown with a sort of melodic menace, that saw her rise above her simple, yet effective bassline.
Their innovative post-punk has drawn comparison to the likes of Wire and The Fall in the past, but Drahla seem to have something about them that not only keeps them modern but makes them unique. Their limited on-stage personas certainly help keep that sense of mystery about them as they keep movement and talk to a minimum on The Hope & Ruin’s stage, but it’s also their ability to subvert conventions. Throughout the night, their songs go to places you’re not expecting. Whether it’s the alternative vocals, or the dynamic guitar lines, it’s a difficult show to pigeonhole. Take 2017 single ‘Silk Spirit’, for example, which offers up minimal post-punk sounds, with an incredibly interesting melody that creates a sense of allusion and uniqueness.
Despite there being obvious influences, Drahla don’t really sound like much else around at the moment. Sure, there’s a touch of the dirty riffs of the likes of Idles and YOWL, but it doesn’t carry the nastiness. Drahla carry a sense of clean, polished post-punk, with an array of different wonky, coherent sounds to impress with their short set at The Hope & Ruin. They’re a band that clearly like to keep a sense of mystery about them, and their live show does everything to keep the band enigmatic. This felt like an old-fashioned, rock and roll show and it was hugely exciting because of it.