You join us on a hot and sweaty Friday night at Kings Cross Water Rats in late summer for, what is for many attendees and performers, the first live gig after COVID-19 lockdown. There is what could be a faint sense of caution in the air with groups of people and couples dotted around the venue and adjoining bar trying to ease themselves back into a sense of normality while keeping a careful social distance. It is onto this stage that the bands playing tonight find themselves walking. Everyone wants to enjoy themselves but they may take a little coaxing.
The support bands have a great go at doing just that. Lyena are an energetic post-punky three piece who get the room of early arrivals heaving from the get-go. They extend a warning to the rest of the bands that it’s very, very hot on the stage but after a back-of-the-hand wipe of the forehead they swelter on through.
The crowd thins out for Ocean Flaws but having come armed with bags of melody, like early Keane or U2 with a sprinkling of Pet Shop Boys, they get the room bouncing again in no time, treating us to a set including latest single Hologram, which is worth a listen.
The Young have brought a bus full of fans with them and their polished hooks and commanding front man keep the crowd going up until the headline act.
Drool get straight into Playground Wars, arguably their biggest song yet, making the crowd jump from the get-go. Singer Joey slinks and stalks effortlessly about the stage, hanging from the microphone as they storm through Dumb Chat but eventually technical difficulties rear their head and proceedings come to a brief halt. The first show back was never going to go perfectly smoothly. After all the cables are plugged back in the right place the show truly seems to start and the lads hit their stride.
The latter half of the set features two brand new inclusions, currently titled Teenage Skin and Radio. The latter is short, sharp and we are prophetically informed will “get your ankles going”. Debut single Fun becomes a celebration of guitarist Louis’s birthday and he repays our rendition of Happy Birthday with a version of the song at it’s Black Rebel Motorcycle Club aping finest.
A heart rending performance of Lizard is given as a worthy tribute to bassist Charlie’s cousin Abbie Louise who recently passed away from cancer.
Final song, Junkyard, kicks things up to a classic rock high with Joey exploring his finest Jeff Buckley-esque vocals. There’s a brief false ending after which the tune descends into Fleetwood Mac’s ‘The Chain’ as strobe lights thrash about the room. All that’s left is for Drool to triumphantly leave Water Rats knowing they’ve banished the boredom of lockdown safely from the heads of a venue full of very happy fans, at least for tonight.