Performing their biggest headline slot tonight at Shepherds Bush Empire are Dry the River who've managed to turn the historic venue into an after hours lock in. Their set list was made up of tracks from their debut album Shallow Bed including standouts such as 'New Ceremony' and 'Bible Belt' although the gig itself was short by normal standards (barely an hour long including encore). The songs were performed professionally although a little too rehearsed for my taste, almost to the point of auto-pilot (hey at this point we'll both jump off the drum riser etc.) although they still managed to keep the music ball in the air throughout and energy high all the way through.

The band themselves are a strange bunch, they play acoustic based folk-rock but have a rhythm section that would rather be in Metallica. A strange moment in the evening came during the set where I watched the bass player head banging like Jason Newsted to a mid tempo folk ditty while the tattooed drummer flails through drum fills fulfilling in his own Tommy Lee fantasies especially in one of their harder numbers 'Lions Den'. Somewhere in the record company there is a finger twitching stylist itching to get their hands on the group to try and 'Mumford' them up a little and make them a more uniformed group that actually 'look' like a group rather than a rag tag bunch of school mates in their first band.

The playing is professional and precise although it's their vocal abilities that really sell the band as 'one to watch', with close harmonies throughout (especially on the fan favourite 'Weights and Measures' which was performed initially without microphones or electric instruments). The risk of trying songs a cappella is a risky one in front of a rowdy audience as a group like The Futureheads found out when they performed their recent Rant album on the road. The encore song 'Shaker Hymns' was performed with just acoustic guitar, fiddle and vocals sandwiched in the middle of the crowd without amplification and just the glow of a thousand phones lighting them up. Amazingly the crowd fell completely silent throughout to hear the inflections and harmonies. Overall a good gig although falling a little short of great. A strong taster of things to come in 2013.