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To watch video of Dry the River perform “Chambers and the Valves” Click Here!
Dry The River’s songs perfectly coincided with this fall day. Their pastoral hymns, filled with yearning, were easy on the ears and riveting to listen to. Singer Pete Liddle’s voice was soft with just the right amount of grit. They opened their set with single “The Chambers and The Valves”. What stood out instantly was the keen connection between the two guitar players, Pete and Matthew Taylor. Their interplaying was was joyous to listen to; Matthew handled some nice leads while Pete had a very melodic style to his rhythm.
It’s easy to see why they’ve been getting so much attention since their formation in 2009. These songs have flown out of speakers from everywhere; from Glastonbury to Lollapalooza to the Brighton Music Hall. Despite their London upbringing, Scott Miller, the band’s bass player, said that it’s always wonderful to tour America. “The most exciting place to tour is out here. All the bands that we loved growing up are from out here and to travel around America is so fun… We want to celebrate it, which is what we’ve been doing.” Touring with similar acts such as Bowerbirds and Alabama Shakes, this is their fourth round of touring the US and their first real nationwide headlining tour.
Next up was “Bible Belt”, the perfect opportunity for Pete, Matthew, and Scott to show off their harmonizing skills. Compared to other, modern groups who rely heavily on harmonies (think Fleet Foxes), Dry the River’s melodies are grounded in traditional folk stylings, more akin to Fairport Convention than any other modern contemporaries. They’re quick to state that they don’t like to be pigeonholed into the modern folk movement. Pete notes that, while they’re happy to be compared to such successful bands, they hope that their more lively and electric concerts will give people a clearer impression of the band. “Once they see the live show, people hopefully say ‘okay they have it’. Hopefully they see something a bit different in us.”
However for their WERS set, Dry the River elected to play a more subdued acoustic set. Because of this, their harmonies came through loud and clear and were at the forefront of their tunes. Drummer Jon Warren added texture to the songs through a strong kick pedal and subtle use of the ride and crash cymbals.
Finishing up the set was “Shield Your Eyes”. In particular, the violin backing to this track, played by Will Harvey, was absolutely marvelous and really brought the song to life. This was the moment where you could just imagine the sweeping fields of grass and a blue and cloudless sky. “Under sweet autumns skins is our myth dispelled/In your strange and simple way” sang Pete Liddle, holding true to the idea of these songs being close to nature and organic.
Dry the River are gaining so much momentum in such a short amount of time. Their tunes fit in with modern folk trends but, like Pete hoped, they easily stand out amongst their contemporaries. Scott and Pete joked that their next album would be “dubstep grindcore”, but really, this eclectic group could probably pull it off. For now, their quality folk hymns are what we have to enjoy and treasure.