Photos by Sapphire Mason Brown

Some venues are spectacular; there character far surpassing dark, gloomy, oppressive clubs with dirty fixtures, great metal lighting and floors littered with various forms of failure, from broken bottles, to bodily functions, to sprawled limbs and churned faces. Of course, we need, want and love these murky masses of seedy space but sometimes clean and elegant is refreshing and altogether fitting.

Bush Hall is a cut above most, its expansive ceiling, almost distant from view given its great height, arches above, adorned with sculptures and grand cornices. Great chandeliers hang dramatically, big shinning tangles of gold and light. Subtle, more conventional lighting illuminates the room with an array of primary colours, as though someone has crammed a rainbow into the intimate space and its expanded to fit. This is a venue queens could dine in, kings could fence in, jesters could entertain in and of course, where fairly well off London punters can see mildly obscure acts in a peculiar and well furnished environment. But anyway, on with Dark Dark Dark.

Due to my uncanny ability to surpass all concept of time when filling my pig like belly, I was only in time to catch the final utterings of the 3-peice support act, Love Like Birds. It sounded cute and quaint, and no doubt in full, was lovely. The lady behind me said the lead girl had been incredibly timid, not uttering much to the crowd, however, my informants eyes were super shifty so there’s a chance she was a huge scheming liar.

Soon it was approaching Dark (Dark Dark) and everyone’s faces began to twist with excitement. The band stormed on stage; thoughts and features intently fixed on their corresponding instruments, adverse to the beaming eye of the audience, avoiding visual contact as though we were an awkward acquaintance they were loathed to chat with. This stream of awkwardness flowed liberally for the entire gig, but it was weirdly aligned with texture of the music, the darkness of the subject matter and the agonised, discordant nature of theirtheatrical meanderings.

Their gloomy chamber folk encourages lethargy, the troubled slowing of the crowds communal heartbeat, dragged to an almost halt by plodding drums, lolloping in agonised rhythm. Music becomes synonymous with visual character; faces contort as instruments writhe, features dance as fingers trickle over keys, harrowing backing vocals immerge from faces rich in spirit. Tonight darkness reigns, though heavily harnessed at points by the occasional springing beat and cheery chord series. But like a smile with hidden intent, it looms ominous.

It’s a marvellous voice Nona Marie wields; her lungs must be lined with the finest gold, her voice so pure and cutting, eating away at the air. It springs from the caverns of the diaphragm like the rampant ghost of her own character, at times subdued, bitter, agonised, then adversely cheeky, mischievous and twisted. Marshall LaCount occasionally interacts joyfully with the crowd, counteracting the Nona’s introverted persona. He’s like the frolicking face of forlorn, if that makes any sense. Maybe not.

It is interesting that the stage seems like a tormentor to some, a daunting projection of feelings, a pedestal cranked high by the over-dramatic theatrics of some front men and women, who hold crowds in their palms, bathing in their eyes and adoration. But some are timid, shy, honest and reserved. This creates an odd toss up between endearing and unwelcoming, Dark Dark Dark treading this fine line, but eventually, that displaced feeling and the ever-widening canyon between crowd and act becomes synonymous with their uncomfortable beauty, a further foraging into the dark dark dark.

I was reminded oddly ofsilent films throughout. Certain songs seemed the perfect backdrops for daring black and white robberies, with twinkling, rushed keys and overtly dramatic drum drops thattumble into huge instrumental melodramas. Keys and accordion battle for attention, vocals piercing through, independent from the rabble. At other points it was the backdrop for pained departures and brief, cold encounters. The vocal adds vivid imagery and immersive narrative, like the accompanying visuals to a masterful soundtrack of rhythmic clashes and resonating instrumental gloom. The vocals remain unfaltering, central to the whirlwind and firm against the various torrents of tempo and biting aggression of the LaCount guitar.

It was an odd evening, but a special one. The environment was fresh, Dark Dark Dark alluring and effectual, the crowd full and bursting (it actually sold out before Christmas by the way – testimony to popularity). They muttered their final thanks along with a promise to return with their new record in autumn. They’ve got a bundle of UK festival dates to show it off and I urge you to catch them when they grace our shores.

Love Like Birds