Live Review: Ditz + Home Counties at The Lexington, Islington

Tonight’s gig at The Lexington was part of the DITZ’s ‘Almost Spring Tour 2020’ with Home Counties in support. One band was a surgical strike from a hi-tech compound and the other were an angry mob punching a side of beef until their knuckles bled, both were outstanding.

Home Counties are based in Bristol and made up of Will Harrison (vocals/guitar), Conor Kearney (guitar), Sam Woodroffe (bass), Barn Peiser Pepin (synth/percussion/vocals) and Dan Hearn (drums) and they were born out of the embers of Haze. From the opening track ‘Funky Town’ they were in lock-step and every member of the band played with a precision that never smothered the passion in their sound. Will and Barn took turns on main vocals, both riding the punchy undulations of the stop-start backing. Weaving bass lines were threaded through dual guitar lines that offered angular harmonies and the rock solid drumming was peppered with spiked accents and added percussive sparks from cowbell and wood block. This is a very well-rehearsed band. It takes hours of playing to become this tight but the magic comes from not stifling the enjoyment in playing. I had a brief chat with them at the end of the night and discovered that this was their first ever gig which makes what I saw all the more astonishing. They don’t currently have anything online but I have been lucky to hear ‘Redevelopment’, a track set to be released very soon. If you follow them on their (currently empty) Soundcloud page you’ll be able to get a listen as soon as it’s available. Definitely a band to watch in 2020.

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DITZ, in similar fashion to the first time I saw them live (supporting The Coathangers at Studio 9294) ambled on to the stage in a nonchalant fashion which is completely at odds with what happens when they start to play. The cells in my body started to fizz and threatened to boil and the subsonic rumble of the bass seemed to be attempting to re-write my DNA. Cal (Vocals), Caleb (Bass), Anton (Guitar), Archie (Guitar) and Jack (Drums) offer a glimpse into the abyss. They have a bedsit on the outskirts of nihilism with Cal as the deadpan agitator of this group of blunt objects. He started the gig by pointing at people, beckoning them forward towards the front of stage void you’d think is made of thin ice. He then prowled his way through the set, sometimes with his back to the audience, sometimes on his knees ripping noise out of his effects pedals but always with an impassive face which only breaks when he’s screaming.

Whether it’s the eviscerating chorus of ‘Total 90’ or the no-fucks-given delivery of ‘Gayboy’ (with lines like ‘and I don’t wanna have to pretend, ‘cos we’re never gonna be good friends’ and bursts of barked ironic laughter), DITZ mix power and purpose with their sneers. Despite the cohesive violence of their sound it’s like every band member is wrestling with their own demons; holding fast to their spot on stage while fighting unseen forces for their lives. I can’t tell if they want to save our souls from Narcissus or roll a joint and watch Babylon burn. Either way, if DITZ are the soundtrack to our downfall we should turn up the volume and dance in the glow of the flames.

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Review and Photography by Paul F Cook

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