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Districts - Garage, London, 12/9/2017

  by Gillian Fish

published: 31 / 10 / 2017

Districts - Garage, London, 12/9/2017


Gillian Fish watches a compelling set from Philadelphia band The Districts on the London date of their UK tour.

It seems appropriate that there was a storm brewing over London on the night that Pennsylvanian natives The Districts played The Garage. As the foursome took to the stage, the atmosphere crackled with an electrifying energy. The garage-rock band, who met at high school, released their third album ‘Popular Manipulations’ in August. It showcases a new dimension and maturity, without seeing them lose the charm that won over fans and critics a couple of years ago. Singer Rob Grote’s powerful vocal delivery evokes a response from the crowd right from the get-go, as they start proceedings with their new single ‘Violet’, which focuses on relationship complexities. The set is a mixture of old and new, with plenty of room for fan favourites, including ‘4th and Roebling’ from 2015 album ‘Flourish and a Spoil’. Its lo-fi distorted sound, reminiscent of The Strokes, still proves just as popular as the audience jump around the sticky floor of The Garage. The Districts bring with them a frenetic and magnetic energy, Grote lurches across the stage as he plays and sings every single note as if it could be his last. Watching them is an immersive experience; the sometimes angsty and dark lyrics become uplifting when delivered in such a compelling and passionate way. On a night when indie royalty The Killers were gigging across town, The Districts seemed to be playing homage to the Las Vegas band's 'Hot Fuss'-era on recent single ‘If Before I Wake’; an epic, soaring track that could easily fill a stadium. “Thunder woke me up, it was storming in the city, I was suddenly wide awake”/”I’m just a narcissist!” sings Grote with such intensity it’s enough to make every hair on the back of your neck stand up. ‘Salt’ runs along the same vein, but has a more synth-led sound, while thew new record's lead single ‘Ordinary Day’ is reflective with an almost eerie feel. They revisit a few other first and second album tracks, much to the crowd's appreciation, including ‘Chlorine’, ‘Long Disance’ and ‘Funeral Beds’, which remains one of their most popular songs, sounding just as captivating now as it did back when their first, self-released, record ‘Telephone’ came out way back in 2012. The bluesy, harmonica tinged melody builds to a crescendo and it remains the perfect festival sing-along anthem. At just under nine minutes long ‘Young Blood’ seems as if it was written purely to provide the epic encore finale that it does, slowly building from a non-eventful fuzzy guitar-filled beginning to a huge instrumental climax with the repetitive yelled out lyrics “It’s a long way down from the top to the bottom”. Standing at the back of the venue and watching the entire audience with their arms aloft shouting along to every word is enough evidence of The Districts' popularity. This is a band that throws everything into their live performance, creating euphoria amongst the crowd, and it feels like a privilege to still be able to watch them in such a modestly sized venue when surely bigger stages await in the not-too-distant future.

Also at Garage, London

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