Review of The Whigs & Dead Confederate live at Camden Dingwalls on 23/02/11


Wednesday night saw Athens, Georgia take over Camden's Dingwalls for a musical assault on the senses. Sharing headline duties across their current UK tour, The Whigs and Dead Confederate put in scintillating performances that contrasted in both style and delivery.

Dead Confederate take their influence from the late, great Nirvana, moody and motionless, their sound is dark and strained as Hardy Morris combines rhythm guitar with angst-driven vocals. The Whigs, a more modest 3-piece to DC's 5, use every inch of the tiny Dingwalls stage, leaping about throughout their hour set despite the crowd diminishing as the last tube approached Camden Town station.

On a little after 10pm, The Whigs kicked off with 'Like A Vibration,' their reputation still apparently 'hanging around their necks.' For a band that has played in front of arena crowds up and down the country supporting Kings of Leon, the dwindling numbers in attendance could've easily put them off. It didn't. There was barely time to catch a breath as they launched into 'Already Young' before the summer vibes of 'Black Lotus' transported the crowd from the grey misery of the February night to a summer fete bustling with birds, bees and strawberries, possibly.

Their standout track by a mile was 'Hundred / Million'; Julian Dorio snapping at his skins with a pulsating beat before The Whigs signature sing-a-long chorus bounced back into focus. 'So Lonely' was another highlight, as the band, and Parker Gispert especially, lay their collective hearts on the table for all to poke and prod at.

It must be said that most of the 200-strong crowd had come to see DC, spellbound for an hour as the Georgia natives led them through a completely unforgiving set. 'Start Me Laughing,' really kicked things into gear as Morris screamed 'I know I can barely hide it / I know I am so excited.' It was all too much for one punter who was so overwhelmed he poured his entire pint on the floor, mouth wide open to the amusement of all who saw him, presumably aghast at being so close to his heroes.

'The Rat,' was the standout track as the chuggy baseline fed a tortured breakdown, 'The judge be judged and all the rich be saved.' Morris' look is strongly evocative of Kurt's; baggy jumper, long hair across his face and veins straining in his neck with every verse. A slower, almost folky 'Run From The Gun' set up the 7 minutes of pure rock 'n' roll that is 'Tortured-Artist Saint' to close. The outro played with all the gusto of Charlie Sheen's last hurrah. Two great bands in a quality old school gig venue. An absolute pleasure.

Alastair Thompson