Photography: Lucy McLachlan / @lucy_alexandra

Dry Cleaning

Harvest Sun @ The Shipping Forecast 21/2/20

In their 30s now, DRY CLEANING aren’t your quintessential ‘young’ new band. But, nonetheless, still ‘new’, and based on what a select few can see and hear tonight, highly captivating. The remainder of us can only hear; but, first, the band.

Attempting to describe to friends what band I’m off to see, I, like everyone, pigeonhole and use descriptive songs to punctuate a lack of detail. “Do you remember Money by The Flying Lizards?” I enthuse to my aging circle, “They sound like that.” I particularly like that description. A shame that my peer group do not know who The Flying Lizards are, either. Or Young Marble Giants. Or Life Without Buildings.

Dry Cleaning have a poet as the front person. Florence Shaw is every inch the anti-popstar. She talks of her awkwardness fronting a rasping guitar band, her inability to look and sound cool. It couldn’t be further from the truth. She barely moves but she is mesmerising in every way. Her fingers caress the mic like claws as she gazes into the middle distance, unaware that there’s a tightly packed crowd nodding as effortlessly at her ‘performance’. The idiosyncrasy of the lyrically banal storytelling, offset by the Idles-esque guitar and happy quick drumming, makes this four-piece something of a genuinely different and beguiling proposition. “You stole my childhood CDs, you fuck!”, she intonates on Goodnight. A song that is about how YouTube is creating memories that weren’t really there. Lyrically banal, yes; perfunctory and vanilla, absolutely not.

Dry Cleaning Image 2

It’s a pity, then, that the only thing holding back this wonderous new act is something they can’t control. The venue is sold-out and expectant, the all-ages crowd dutiful in their praise and excitable in the plaudits, but if you’re not one of the 20 or so down the front there is no way of seeing the band in their full glory. Some folk just dance, but some are left frustrated by a lack of sight lines and visual stimuli.

Dry Cleaning are the epitome of a band who aren’t massively fixed on success, but are achieving it through just being ordinary and positive. That in itself is something special, and they saunter off stage to whoops of pleasure and happiness from the assembled basement dwellers. The smiles of the band are huge and will only get wider the bigger this band become. Sumptuous and verbally filling, Dry Cleaning are making the ordinary a thing worth thinking about.

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