In a smaller venue than they’ve come accustomed to over summer, Getintothis’ Chris Hughes was there to witness the mayhem and the meteoric rise of Darlia.
Blackpool-born, Manchester-based alt-rockers Darlia pulled more than just a few admiring ears with their sets at every big British festival this summer. The band has had a whirlwind few months, during which they released their latest EP Knock Knock. So on the second date of their UK tour, how do Darlia deal with coming back down to ground in a tight, intimate venue after playing such huge stages?
The only way they know how – by having a fucking good time.
Support act, Gengahr, deserve plaudits as a band that will no doubt gain many more fans in the future. Having already pressed their first vinyl release through Transgressive Records, their sound refuses to lie down in a space somewhere between Tame Impala and Brian Jonestown Massacre. Demonstrating a softer and more melodic edge than the headline act, Gengahr kept the stage warm for the angst-driven party that followed.
The lights eventually dimmed and the crowd pulled themselves from the bar and jostled their way to the front. The tension swelled and anticipation bubbled as the band took to their places.
Opening track, Napalm, burns with the giant grunge fuzz that Darlia have been getting noticed for. The whole crowd is hit with a thundering wall of sound that has drawn comparisons to the mighty Nirvana. But their live sound goes beyond frontman Nathan Day’s Cobain-esque rasp which is huge and harmonised. It’s one that faithfully channels the spirit of US punk godfathers Wipers and garage rock legends Dinosaur Jr.
What is immediately obvious is that the lads are excited by being in such close proximity to their head banging fans. Their enjoyment is infectious, as even the most stoic wall hugging fans find it impossible to remain inanimate.
The band hammer their way through a set mixing grinding guitar, fat bass riffs that RATM’s Tim Commerford would be proud of and rhythms that swing between tight pulses and crashing drives. Candyman, the title track from their April released EP, will no doubt be a permanent set-list fixture given the adoring sing-a-long it creates. The crowd joining in as Nathan snarls ‘What’s it gonna be?/Tell me what you see!’
Jumping into early single release Dear Diary, the crowd erupts into the first mosh pit we have seen at a Liverpool venue since The Krazyhouse circa 2008. Shirtless rockers are falling back into the sound desk barriers and the band love it. This is pure pop punk at its catchiest, glancing nostalgically back to the mid-nineties. Nathan’s vocal ability is shown here as his voice abandons its grit and lets a sound more reminiscent of Colin Doran or Jordan Pundik sweep in. The set pounds to a climax with fan-favourite Queen of Hearts and the connection between artist and audience is apparent as each spur the other further into a frenzy.
After the show, the clearly knackered band- by now dripping with sweat- get down from the stage and take a while to interact with their fans. Two girls giggle excitedly as they have a jacket and a bag of baccy signed. We ask frontman Nathan how it feels to be touring the intimate venues like The Arts Club after playing a full summer of festivals. His response is calm-confidence. As he rolls a cigarette, he replies: “We love it, because at a festival it can take thirty seconds to run from one side to the other. We love to be close so we can interact and show how much we’re enjoying it.”
Darlia are clearly going big places quickly. Despite having played the huge summer festival stages with their name just below heavyweight acts, the band’s success hasn’t gone to their head. They haven’t forgotten that gigs like this- intimate and sweat soaked parties where fans are as much a part of the experience as the band- are the spirit of alternative rock and all it stands for. The visceral link between themselves and the audience is the strongest we have seen from a young band in a long time and we are sure the Ghost of Grunge would be proud.
Pictures by Getintothis’ Marty Saleh.