at Boston Hassle Fest
November 8, 2018 at Green Street Studio
First of all: Green Street Studios is not really a concert venue. It’s actually a dance studio, complete with the mirrored walls and the black studio flooring that we weren’t allowed to wear our shoes on. While it was kind of fun to be in a room of 50 barefoot adults, it was also a little stressful to spend the night worrying about someone accidentally leaving with my generic boots on instead of their own. There’s also no backstage area, so all of the different bands’ instruments were just pushed up against the wall.
Luckily, Drahla had a pretty good sense of humor about the weird set-up, and the first (and one of the only) things that one of them addressed the audience with was drummer Mike Ainsley joking that he’d moved around all of our shoes. Overall, they seemed comfortable in front of the moderately sized audience, even though they had some consistent technical difficulties, largely brought on by having little time to set up in the fast-paced style of Hassle Fest. The mics were also set a bit low for my liking, and frontwoman Luciel Brown’s voice blended in with her wiry guitar, Rob Riggs’s rhythmic bass, and Ainsley’s (frankly impressive and almost machine-like) drumming.
Despite the fact that I probably could have heard her a little bit better, it was still refreshing and exciting to see a woman as the lead vocalist of a post-punk band.. Each person’s musicianship also carried about as much weight as the others, though, and there wasn’t really any one person who stole the show: perhaps a benefit of their band only being three people, no one got lost in the mix. Their music is somewhat bass-driven as traditional post-punk is, sure, but it’s also somewhat minimalist in the best way possible; not drowned out by the reverb-drenched sound that marks much of their genre. None of them have been professionally trained in music, but it didn’t show in their performance. They meshed together remarkably well– it all just kind of worked. For a relatively new band, this is particularly exciting, since Drahla has yet to release their first album.
Song highlights included their newest single ‘Twelve Divisions of the Day,’ as well as the slightly older ‘Faux Text’ and ‘Fictional Decision.’ I’d read before that Drahla is a great band to see live, and while I don’t like to cling to preconceived notions, that one definitely did hold up for me – even though their set only clocked in at a little more than 30 minutes; yet another result of the unconventional Hassle Fest setting. Drahla is definitely deserving of the attention they’re starting to receive in the United States, after touring with acclaimed Montreal post-punk band Ought– and it’s exciting to think about where I might see them next.