White Ring in Dalston – the witch house moves to N16

20/10/2010 § Leave a comment

After ridiculing the trend of witch house/drag on various websites, I noticed that one of the only good acts to contribute to the scene was playing London. White Ring – along with the ridiculously named oOoOO – are possibly the only bands I’ve come across in this area with a shred of talent. Judging by the clientèle in the venue last night, a lot of people had traversed over from the Gothic and industrial quarters to make their way down for the event. The near-full 250 capacity Nest was testament to how a scene’s notoriety makes all the difference – witch house is still very trendy after all, the turnout made all the more impressive by a band who are yet to release an EP.

The venue itself was barely days old and there were many teething problems with the band’s set, notably the fire alarm going off twice because of the smoke machine and the PA giving out on stage right a couple of times. Still, the band seemed unperturbed as they lumbered through their 40 minute set. The venue had decided to go for a red-light district feel with many allusions to pornography and sex all over the place. It’s a relatively interesting idea but it did feel slightly pathetic and ostentatiousness, making too much of an effort to appear controversial and seedy without really being either.

White Ring shuffled onstage at about 10.20pm. Starting off their set with Roses, I was immediately struck by not only how good they sounded but how well their whole set came across live. I was expecting something a little dull and overblown but they were captivating from the first humming of their synthesizer. Now it was clear just why the “witch house” moniker has stuck: there was something slightly creepy about their music – the dark, bubbling synths were tinged with an EBM-ish feel whilst also being reminiscent of dark trance while Kendra billowed and screamed all over the stage like a banshee. The music was highly reminiscent of Crystal Castles at times and I imagine they’ve been an influence. I’m aware this is a very unpopular thing to say in some circles but for me the link was unignorable, and that’s certainly not a bad thing.

Signed to the minimalist Disaro Records and with their first EP in the offing soon, this is definitely a band who should put out more interesting stuff as time goes on. The spring of charisma and dark passions within the band are fresh and plentiful. In a genre which seems thin on real talent and with only the smallest cereal of frontrunners, it’s good to see White Ring as one of the leaders.

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