DMAs look like the kind of guys that might yell “I’ll bash ya fookin’ ‘ed in” at 4am in North London. The band, originating from Newtown, Sydney, have shot quickly from Australian’s indie scene to headline mainstays at the world’s biggest festivals. But it is hard to really call DMAs an Australian act. They dress, sound, and act like they’re from England. Their entire aesthetic is built upon the lower-middle class ‘chav’ look – right down to the lead singer’s singing accent and a songbook that sounds exactly like a Blur record.
They are expatriates in every way. Having achieved success in Australia on the back of their breakout single, ‘Delete’, thegroup flew the coup and arrived in the UK, where they spent the next year and a bit recording their debut record Hills End. Whilst the record itself is injected with hints of their origins (take the track called ‘Melbourne’ for example – very sly), and the subject matter is questionably ‘Australian’, the sound itself is anything but. Whilst bands in the sunburnt country have increasingly incorporated that Brit Pop sound into their music, DMAs swallowed it and became it – rejecting anyAustralian flavour in favour of Neil Gallagher-esque melodic shouting and frowning.
However, that isn’t to say that the show at The Zoo was bad. In fact, despite their regurgitated sound, the group seemed quite unique. I’m not sure if it was because there was a guy in an Adidas tracksuit soulfully strumming an acoustic guitar on stage, or whether there actually was something different about the band, but they were captivating in a sense. Tommy O’Dell seemed confident but dorky on stage, occasionally slapping a tambourine against his hand between verses, and Johnny Took (the Adidas guy) seemed occasionally bored but very happy to be there. But Matt Mason (on lead guitar) was the real star of DMAs – playing guitar solos rivalling some of my favourite sounds from the shoegaze era.
Really, I wish the band took their success a bit less for granted. They knew people would come and watch them play, and they didn’t really feel very happy or excited to be there. For the price of the ticket, the Newtown/Manchester boys could do better.
Photography Credit: Danny Foster
Reviewer: David Simmons