DITZ + TRIPLE DRAIN + VAN ZON – THE HOPE & RUIN, BRIGHTON 2.2.24
It’s been a difficult year for Grassroots Music Venues with no less than 125 being lost across the UK over the last year. Having said that, thankfully here in Brighton we definitely punch above our weight with some cherished local venues all endeavouring to scout the grassroots scene, with the assistance of in the know promoters, in order to secure the services of the next big thing and as a result bring eager punters to their establishment who will hopefully part with some of their hard earned cash.
The folks at The Hope & Ruin on Queens Road in Brighton therefore concluded that they would really like to do something positive in order to celebrate the scene. As far as I can tell, they called on the assistance of local label and promoter Love Thy Neighbour, (who incidentally they have successfully been working hand-in-hand with for the past decade), and they both worked out a decent strategy. It turns out that Love Thy Neighbour’s head honcho, Andy Rossiter, also happens to be the manager of hotly-tipped Brighton noise-rock band DITZ which comprises Cal (vocals), Anton (guitar), Caleb (bass), Sam (drums/keys) and Jack (guitar). A band who have been flagged up by IDLES frontman Joe Talbot on more than one occasion as Brighton’s best band, and as a result have secured the main support slot for IDLES forthcoming large arena tour. The writing is on the card and it’s inevitable that DITZ will also be moving up the ranks as IDLES have as a result. Therefore the services of DITZ were secured prior to their rise and this evening they are the headline act on the bill. A nice touch was for DITZ to be allowed to choose their own support acts and these came in the shape of Van Zon & Triple Drain.
In order for this evening to be viable, the assistance of Laine Brew Co was called upon as sponsors for the event and the creation of a special limited edition ‘DITZ CRISP’ beer was achieved and on sale during the night. Also of note was that the purchasing of a ticket for the show went not only towards helping the band record their next LP, but also that profits will go to The Clare Project. Thus it’s a win all around!
Not surprisingly the first floor performance room was chokka and there was huge anticipation as the DITZ quintet took to the stage at 9:51pm and offloaded no less than 16 numbers, of which all bar one being self-penned. For the next 76 minutes we were to have our ears blasted, our senses challenged and our hearts lifted!
The only way to begin was frontperson Cal stating “We’re DITZ from Brighton, but you knew that already!”. The opening bars of 2018 single ‘Seeking Arrangement’ screeched away and it was all systems go! And go they did as Cal immediately vacated the stage in order to get up close and personal with the converted. It was treat night tonight as the quintet have been working on new material and a handful of these new compositions had an outing this evening. The first of these being ‘God On A Speed Dial’ which was getting its debut live outing and one which witnessed Caleb unleashing his inner beast via his bass axe. We were bombarded with a wall of noise and back again. I tell you what, if this is what the new material is going to be for their second studio album, then sign me up now and I will add it next to my trio of DITZ vinyl’s.
The first of a couple of cutz from 2020’s ‘5 Songs’ EP was next in the form of ‘Gayboy’ which is always well received. It was “Ah ah ah ah ah, Oh oh oh oh oh” time next as earworm ‘Three’ from 2022’s ‘The Great Regression’ album was upon us. This being the first of five in a row from the same platter. The others being the explosive and drumming frenzied ‘Ded Würst’, ‘Summer Of The Shark’ (cue Cal walkabout), noise classic ‘hehe’ (yet another foray), ‘Teeth’ with yet another crowd visit and one which saw Cal held aloft by fans and paraded around the venue.
More treats followed in the form of a trio of unreleased tunes, the first of which, ‘Taxi Man’ witnessing the quintet in perfect harmony as they chugged away on this borderline metal number, one which saw drummer Sam go into overdrive. Staying with the transport theme (of sorts) the following selection was ‘18 Wheeler’ which was another explosive tune. Completing the hat-trick was the first ever live outing of ‘The Body As A Structure’ which surprisingly saw Cal at their most melodic that I have ever witnessed. But fear not DITZ fans as Jack, Anton and Caleb were seriously on the case, especially the bass guitar parts!
A duo from their debut studio album were selected next in the form of ‘I Am Kate Moss’ and ‘Instinct’, the former of which opens with “I cut a striking figure; I cut a striking figure” before musically exploding as only DITZ know how. Yet another walkabout was had during ‘Instinct’. Their final unreleased composition came next in the form of ‘Señor Siniestro’, which witnessed some rather funky guitar work with almost a pop style vocal delivery atop. Talking of pop, the band threw in an extra number not showing on their setlist as their penultimate choice of the night, this being their cover of Peaches ‘F*ck The Pain Away’ which features the opening line “Suckin’ on my titties like you wanted me”, which DITZ recorded on their 2020 ‘5 Songs’ EP.
A DITZ gig wouldn’t be a DITZ gig if they didn’t sign off with the monstrous modern day live classic of ‘No Thanks, I’m Full’. I tell you what if they decide to play this as their final number on the forthcoming IDLES tour, then the headliners may well be in a little spot of bother! As always, us punters had to crouch down and spring up again, jack-in-the-box-like when the instruments exploded back into action. It’s on this track that like no other, DITZ have defined themselves and the acquisition of Sam on drums and moving Jack to guitar was a master stroke. As a result of this they truly have become the perfect package. Sam’s drumming is so enthusiastic that it wears me out from just watching him. Mind you he did relax a bit by tapping a drumstick on Cal’s finished ‘DITZ CRISP’ can as a new sound, and Cal had a go on a cymbal, before Sam finished off on keys for the last few notes. It had been an epic performance, so much so that my friend Helen (who has witnessed DITZ on many occasions) came up to me and said that this had been the very best DITZ gig she has ever witnessed!
It was now 11:07pm (what curfew?) and as they were vacating the stage Cal intimated that we might just be seeing them at Komedia Brighton some time in the future…what a tease! In the meantime check out the DITZ already released material HERE.
Cal Francis – vocals
Caleb Remnant – bass guitars
Anton Mocock – guitars
Jack Looker – guitars
Sam Evans – drums/Moog synth
‘Seeking Arrangement’ (a 2018 single)
‘God On A Speed Dial’ (unreleased)
‘Gayboy’ (from 2020 ‘5 Songs’ EP)
‘Three’ (from 2022 ‘The Great Regression’ album)
‘Ded Würst’ (from 2022 ‘The Great Regression’ album)
‘Summer Of The Shark’ (from 2022 ‘The Great Regression’ album)
‘hehe’ (from 2022 ‘The Great Regression’ album)
‘Teeth’ (from 2022 ‘The Great Regression’ album)
‘Taxi Man’ (unreleased)
‘18 Wheeler’ (unreleased)
‘The Body As A Structure’ (unreleased)
‘I Am Kate Moss’ (from 2022 ‘The Great Regression’ album)
‘Instinct’ (from 2022 ‘The Great Regression’ album)
‘Señor Siniestro’ (unreleased)
‘F*ck The Pain Away’ (Peaches cover) (from 2020 ‘5 Songs’ EP)
‘No Thanks, I’m Full’ (from 2022 ‘The Great Regression’ album)
The second support act of the night were Triple Drain who are a trio consisting of Eva (vox and 5-string bass), Bella (guitar) and Rachel (drums), who to be honest I was previously unaware of (smack wrist!). They entertained us (from 9:03pm) with a mere handful or half dozen tunes which ran across only 24 minutes before ending abruptly at 9:27pm.
Visually they draw comparisons to a modern day version of The Slits and even offer up the subliminal reggae bass dub backbeat, but are best described as post punk with a goth edge. Tune one ‘Rachel’s’ saw Eva offering an almost hypnotic vocal delivery atop of an indie post punk sound. Selection two, ‘Mind’, was a drumming led number with further mesmerising vocals, that then exploded into action. Choice three, ‘Found Mary’, really had the bass and drums vibe as found on the best PiL tunes, whereas penultimate number ‘Batrat And Mothboy’, was akin to a melodic Siouxsie & The Banshees, especially on the vocals, that is until it got loud and frantic towards the end. They (surprisingly) signed off with ‘Sonic Sludge’ (which could possibly describe their sound to some), which had a rather decent rumbly bass and echoey guitar and constant drum beat. This reminded me of yet more Siouxsie and PiL going down, as in the PiL sound with Siouxsie vox. Keep an eye out for more Triple Drain gigs locally over the next few months!
Eva – vox and bass
Bella – guitar
Rachel – drums
Triple Drain setlist:
‘Batrat And Mothboy’
Opening up this evening were Brighton based Van Zon which is made up of Charlie West (guitar and vocals), Mina Alexander (violin and vocals), Lottie Skala (bass and vocals), Daniel Scott-Warren (clarinet and synth) and Ewan Vellinga (drums). They are a completely different kettle of fish to the other bands tonight and ones who would be absolutely perfect for the January 2025 Lewes Psychedelic Festival – they would go down a storm…promoters Melting Vinyl and Innerstrings take note!
Van Zon entertained us for 28 minutes and during that time only played four tunes. Unfortunately at the commencement of their set, the room was only half full, but began to fill up the longer their set went on. Van Zon are very much ploughing their own furrow, as witnessed by opening number, ‘She Moves Through The Fair’, which benefited from Mina’s wonderful vocals atop an atmospheric tune. For ‘Oh Messiah’ lead vocal duty switched to Charlie and we had more ethereal sounds with instruments fighting to be heard against each other in a Pigbag kinda way. On song three, ‘More Than Happy’, Charlie switched from left-handed electric guitar to acoustic guitar and both he and Mina shared the vocals. This composition had a dreamy vibe and reminded me of the work of Richard Hawley. The as yet untitled final number featured Daniel switching from keys to second guitar, with Charlie on vocals. This trotted along and was well received by the punters. This was my second helping of Van Zon, and I must confess that I actually preferred them five months ago, when they were forced to play without drums, which made their music even more out there and atmospheric.
Charlie West – left handed guitar, acoustic guitar and vocals
Mina Alexander – violin, shakers and vocals
Lottie Skala – bass and backing vocals
Daniel Scott-Warren – clarinet, synth, guitar
Ewan Vellinga – drums
Van Zon setlist:
‘She Moves Through The Fair’
‘More Than Happy’