Despite being in a small venue in the middle of Williamsburg on a hot and humid New York night, it feels like I’m back at the Oxford Art Factory in Sydney. I’m surrounded by Australian accents every which way, drinking beer and about to watch DZ Deathrays.
Given it’s a Wednesday night and they’re not one of our heavyweight Australian exports (see: Tame Impala), it’s to be expected the crowd would be a mixture of ex-pats and Williamsburg hipsters trying to find the next “it” band before anyone else. Too bad they were our “it” band back in 2012.
Opening with ‘Less Out of Sync’ from the 2014 album Black Rats, DZ Deathrays looked like they were ready to tear the place down but unfortunately the sound wasn’t all there to make it happen. The venue’s mix on the instruments can’t be faulted, but lead singer Shane Parsons’ voice strained to be heard over them.
Old hit ‘Dollar Chills’ made an early appearance and had everyone moving and singing along, and ‘Reflective Skull’ took it even further. The song inspired interpretive dance moves from a Snapchat-obsessed couple in the front row. The set took us from their early starts – a blistering version of ‘Cops Capacity’ that had everyone screaming “East say cops and west say capacity, cops, capacity!” – to a brand new, I assume yet to be named track and the recent single ‘Blood on My Leather.’
However, the real stand out of the set was a fast version of the crazily catchy ‘Gina Works at Hearts’ which made everyone writhe with enjoyment. There was dancing, shaking and screaming every which way. I’ve seen this song bring out bouts of crowd surfing, stage diving and stage invasion but the most intense it got here was a small mosh in the middle of the dance floor. Either the crowds here are more reserved than those in Australia, or Australians just really, really love to fuck things up by stage-diving.
Lead singer Parsons and drummer Simon Ridley had a cute little moment together before the last chorus, exchanging looks as if to say “we did it!” They walked off stage slowly – reverb pulsing through the room – and though there were calls for an encore, the house lights ruined all chances of this happening.
DZ Deathrays are one of Australia’s most exciting live acts, and it’s only a matter of time before other audiences realize this and start to pay more attention. Let’s hope there’s a new album on the way in 2016 to win them some new, very well-deserved fans.