Drenge should be a familiar name by now. The fraternal duo that is Eoin and Rory Loveless have been championed by all manner of music press, found themselves namechecked in the resignation letter of a (now ex-)Labour MP, and they’ve released what is easily one of the best album debuts of the year. Or at least I think so. But no matter how much love I have for the two-piece, I can’t help but think: one of the best decisions I ever made was to cancel plans to go to one of their shows. What for? To sit on a sofa in the sun somewhere outside of Cannock with a group of strangers.
It was record store day: the plan – to keep up with traditions. I was to journey home from university to spend the weekend with my best friend – cue an early start, a rush into town, what feels like an eternity queuing outside Crash Records, enthusing about music with total strangers, spending too much money on records that I would be all too happy to own, a day spent drifting around town to record fairs, acoustic sets at Jumbo Records, then a taxi to the beloved Brudenell Social Club, where this year, Drenge were set to play a show. And, entry to everything was free. I was so excited.
Then came the dilemma: some not-very-close friends in a local band were shooting a music video for their first single, and they wanted a load of people to travel to their lock-up for it. Which left me with two options: I could travel to a place I loved with a person I adore and see a band I massively enthuse about, or, I could bail on a friend to visit a place I’d never even heard of and support some people I wished I could be closer to.
Do you know how much I love Drenge? S O M U C H . So much that I’ll type like The 1975 and not give a D A M N . That’s how much. I first encountered them a year ago (to the day, in fact), supporting Mystery Jets alongside B-Town wonders Swim Deep. Since then, I’ve seen the brothers’ live show a further six times, including a headline show on my 20th birthday (at which I got really quite drunk and spent five minutes refusing to call the drummer anything but his brothers name – but that’s a different story). They got me on the guestlist for one of their shows with Deap Vally after they dropped out of the gig I had a ticket for, after which I massively enthused with them about this seven minute song they had that seemingly went nowhere and everywhere at the same time. I even bailed on Wu Tang Clan to see them perform at a festival this summer. The website I write for is currently working with a group of local promoters to put them on at a show in December, and I’m so beyond excited I almost don’t know what to do.
You get the picture. This is a band who make music I adore.
In the end, I talked my friend into visiting and joining me on a trip to this mythical place called Cannock. And it was the best choice I made all year. We got there late, and spent hours drinking and dazing in the sun and the heat outside the lock-up, chatting amongst a group of perfect strangers. I met a guy in another local band, who, coincidentally, played a gig in my home city the Friday before. One girl arrived in KISS makeup. A guy turned up with some flowers, a pineapple, and a neon rave cap – which I spent a substantial amount of time wearing. We didn’t speak. He’s now something of a guardian angel. The people I met that day are ones I’d run around the earth for. Do you know how much I hate running? S O M U C H .
We made plans to all meet up before a gig the following week, and went our separate ways. Lying in bed (when I finally made it there the next morning) I was so happy. I really felt like I might have connected with people. Sure, I’d had booze, and energy drinks, and was pretty much ready to claw through the wall next to me with an overload of energy, but that was fine, because the people I’d met would still be there next week, and I could tell them all about the time I’d clawed through a wall with my bare hands after we met, and it’d become one of those funny little anecdotes we told at parties.
I didn’t claw through the wall. But we did meet up the following week. I met some of their friends, as well as introducing them to some of mine. That night, a couple of the crowd got engaged. And we knew, we just knew, that this was the start of something great. None of us were going to lose touch with this. Hopefully, we still never will.
Since then, and because of then, I have met and become close friends with heroes. These people inspire me and complete me on a daily basis. I think the world of them. And one of the best parts? They think the world of me too. At least, some of them do. That kind of value is something I’ve not really felt before. And it is so damn beautiful.
All that because I bailed on a Drenge show.
It’s funny. You never really know what choices are going to shape you.
So, to the Loveless brothers: I’m sorry I didn’t make it to your show in April even though it was free. I hope you’ll appreciate that I do still adore you more than I adore vanilla fudge. It was just bad timing. We can still make this work. So, when you get to Birmingham in December, we’re going to celebrate like it’s the only thing that matters. All of us. I can’t wait.
Mine’s a rum and coke.