Shortlist Magazine are putting on a series of six completely free gigs called ’48 hours too… In association with Lynx’. And here’s where the 48 hours comes in; They only announce details of the shows 48 hours before they start. They reveal the artist and venue online and release free tickets to be claimed in several releases over the two days leading up to the event. So far, Stereophonics, Rudimental, Hurts and Gaz Coombes have played free gigs in small venues across the UK for Shortlist and Lynx. However, on Tuesday night, it was revealed that garage rockers Drenge would play in 120-capacity Liverpool venue The Magnet on the 12th November. The three waves of ticket releases disappeared within the blink of an eye.
Likely due to a statement on Shortlist Magazine’s website expressing that not all ticket holders would be guaranteed entry due to the size of the venue, a queue stretched down Liverpool’s Hardman Street long before the doors opened. The Magnet is a unique, retro styled bar and nightclub. First opened in 1958 as a funk and soul club, it has a proud history, including being the first venue where Freddie Mercury and Brian May ever played together. On the outskirts of the city centre, away from the chaos of Liverpool’s Concert Square and Mathew Street, it proudly displays awards such ‘best bar in Liverpool’ and number 29 of ‘best bars in the World’.
On Thursday night, Drenge turned the 50s-esque venue downstairs from the quaint ground floor bar, into a sweaty frenzy. The tiny venue was packed full of excited Drenge fans who welcomed the band out to play this extremely intimate and 100% free gig. The Loveless brothers, Rory and Eoin, who recently added a third member, bassist Rob Graham, to the fray, did not start apprehensively. They got the audience’s blood pumping with hard-hitting tunes from both their 2013 self-titled debut album and this year’s second album ‘Undertow’. With the venue being so small, the mosh pit in front of the stage engulfed over half of the room.
Every one of Drenge’s loud garage rock-blues rock songs sounded fantastic in the minuscule, low ceiling-ed venue. Both the rough-around-the-edges, guitar-based tracks from their debut album and muscular, bass-assisted anthems of Undertow pleased the crowd. There was even a few oldies and fan favourites such as ‘I Wanna Break You In Half’ and ‘Fuckabout’. If it hadn’t have been a free gig, I would have said the spectators had got what they paid for.
Going into the last couple of songs of Drenge’s set, the crowd decided the show wasn’t quite intimate enough for them, and pushed forwards, closer to the stage. This resulted in a few fans being knocked onto the actual stage, some landing on guitarist and singer Eoin’s foot pedals. Others decided to step up onto the edge of the stage and allow the venue security to push them backwards so they could crowd surf back onto their feet. What was probably pretty dangerous in hindsight was exciting at the time, and the fans didn’t seem to mind watching the band play from inches away from their feet.
The closer of the set was 8-minute guitar-thrashing track ‘Let’s Pretend’, the penultimate song of their debut album. Hitting The Magnet with a wall of sound and prompting last-ditch stage dive and crowd surfing attempts. The Sheffield band ended the night with stage dives from all three members. Eoin, Rory and Rob were treated like heroes, with fans gathering around them and chanting their names. It was without a doubt, the sweatiest gig of my life, and I expect it to hold that accolade for quite a while.