Dry Cleaning Entertain Webster Hall with Debut Full-Length
May 19, 2022
Dry Cleaning – Webster Hall – May 18, 2022
The last couple of years have been inarguably terrible for most, but at least we got some good post-punk. Dry Cleaning, a foursome from South London, are thankfully a part of that. The band has released just one full-length record—New Long Leg (2021)—and a couple of EPs, but you wouldn’t know it given the fan response: Webster Hall was packed on Wednesday night for their headlining show. Fake Fruit, an Oakland-based band and another post-punk treat, opened with riffing guitar and big drums. All four members having a blast, and they closed out their set to booming cheers after “No Mutuas” (Fake Fruit, 2021), a Spanish version of their hit single.
Next, in a long black coat and five-inch heels, Florence Shaw talk-sang her way through Dry Cleaning’s slim but mighty catalog, a study in the power of stillness. She moved only occasionally, punctuating her near-monotone with a hand gesture every so often. Her restraint is such that when she suddenly wielded a maraca on “Her Hippo,” it almost felt hocking. The band’s playing, emotive and looser, balanced out Shaw’s contained energy. Guitarist Tom Dowse, bassist Lewis Maynard and drummer Nick Buxton seemed to be in constant conversation with Shaw’s wry pronouncements, questions and meandering observations, drawing out notes as if they were hmms and yeahs. On “Strong Feelings,” Dowse’s guitar built and climbed as Shaw had an epiphany: “My only ambition in life is to grip the roots of your hair/ You just want to be liked.”
By the time the band reached the penultimate song of the night, “Scratchcard Lanyard,” the crowd was fully rapt. A small (and civil) mosh pit formed and those around me were smiling almost giddily. Dry Cleaning are proof positive that when things go to shit, there are undoubtedly bright spots ahead. —Rachel Brody | @RachelCBrody
Photo courtesy of Rachel Brody