The words of Kanye West were echoing in my head for the last few days now. “18 years, 18 years”, he raps on “Gold Digger” a song that kept coming back to me. Not the whole song, just that little part.
“18 years, 18 years”. That’s how long it’s been since the first time I heard of a band called At the drive-in. That’s how long it’s been since I started thinking about how awesome it would be to see them play live. And now, 18 years later, here I was (for the first time) in Dublin, Ireland, drinking beers at a pub, 24 hours before I would get to see them play live! And as if that weren’t enough, they would be playing alongside one of the best new bands of the last few years: Royal Blood. I mean, who could ask for more!
Flash back to 1999, when I first heard of At the drive-in and their album In/Casino/Out (released in 1998). Back then, there was no Youtube and I could only imagine the way all the energy in their music would translate to a live gig. Then, in 2000,they released Relationship of Command, the commercial success of which helped them make it all the way to MTV. Watching the video to “One armed scissor” (that consisted only of footage of the band playing live) finally put an image to that fantasy. And it only left me wishing for more, especially since At the drive-in was already one of my favorite bands, to the point where I have almost no memory of me listening to something else during 2000! So, you can imagine my shock when out of the blue they decided to break up in March 2001…
Back to 2017: It’s May, and having already preordered Royal Blood’s new album, I receive an email about new shows added to their tour. That’s when I see something that almost made me scream of excitement: At the drive-in and Royal Blood would play a series of shows together in the UK and we almost don’t even think about it: Dublin, here we come!
Entering the 3Arena in Dublin for the first time can only be described with one word: WOW. According to Wikipedia, the venue’s capacity is 13.000 people but I could swear that it could fit twice as many people! Either way, that is one awesome venue and it seems only natural that in 2011 it was named the fifth busiest music arena in the world! Just imagine that only two days before the At the drive-in / Royal Blood gig, on Friday, November 24th, the Queens of the Stone Age were playing that same arena!
The opening band was Black Honey. That’s an Indie band that I admit to not knowing that much about, but I will surely be looking into a lot more from now on. They have been compared to Lush and “The Guardian” has even written that that’s what it would sound like if Lana Del Rey was in a rock band. The main thing that I could think of while watching them was that Debbie Harry still influences the way that female indie performers handle themselves.
Then, at last, it was time to put an end to that “18 years” period. At the drive-in hit the stage and it was everything I was hoping for and expecting it would be. Fast and LOUD, a huge blast of energy that took over the place. Cedric Bixler is a gifted frontman, but no words can describe At the drive-in’s performance better than the real thing. And the closest thing to it for anyone that wasn’t there, is this video I took when they played their intro song, “Arc Arsenal”:
The main event was Royal Blood. Only four years after their formation on 2013, with two successful albums and playing big festivals as well as alongside bands like the Foo Fighters and the Queens of the Stone Age, Royal Blood seem to be ready to get even bigger. If what happened in Dublin is any indication, they have already reached the point where they can be the headliners. 3Arena was crowded for At the drive-in but when it was time for Royal Blood to appear, the place was suddenly packed by lots of young people that apparently only made it to the show to see the duo from Brighton.
And they didn’t disappoint, playing a technically flawless show (there were times that one would almost wonder if that was actually a live performance) that consisted of 17 of a total of 20 tracks they have in their two albums. And while it is incredible to see Mike Kerr in a live show to use his bass guitar in a way that it sounds as if at least two guitars are playing, for me it is even more impressive to see the almost effortless way in which Ben Thatcher drums some really difficult parts. I must say that it is kind of… creepy to see him walking around the stage with an empty look in his face when the show ended or even while talking a small break between songs, but the dude is one fucking incredible drummer!
To anyone that hasn’t seen Royal Blood or At the drive-in play live: Do so. First chance you get.
At the drive-in