The Qemists / Dorje / Princess Slayer [Live Review – The Player’s Lounge, Guildford, 9/9/2016]

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The Player’s Lounge is a fitting venue for a lineup this diverse. Half set from a Bond movie, half rock-ready venue complete with PA pumping out classics from the likes of Limp Bizkit and Nirvana, despite its more hip-hop-friendly name The Player’s Lounge provided its fair share of commendable ambience as the evening’s performers prepared to take the stage.

Princess Slayer (92%) are a real blast from TMMP’s distant past. Since the days of their Living EP, drummer/producer Vince Welch and vocalist Casey Lim have recruited a new cast of session players to aid in delivering a series of seriously slick EDM-based tunes. Running through a set strewn with classic personal favourites (Snake Skin; God Said), cover-remixes (ERIKA’s Fly Away Bird) and winning new songs (Every Déjà Vu), I’m going to say that Princess Slayer slayed it – mainly because as far as I can remember, I haven’t used that pun before.

I don’t think anyone in attendance would disagree with this score for Dorje (100%), considering the vast majority of the evening’s punters turned up to catch this set and this set alone. Cheers, whoops, and applause greeted every drum hit, guitar lick, bassline, and vocal melody – and that was just during the soundcheck. That can partly be explained by the fact that most of Dorje’s audience was made up of students from the local Academy of Contemporary Music – at which Dorje’s backline, Princess Slayer’s frontline, TMMP, and members of this evening’s headliners have also studied in the past – and Rob Chapman, Rabea Massaad, Ben Minal, and Dave Hollingworth are renowned and revered online for possessing virtuosic skills of the highest order.

Dorje’s set wasn’t so much a set as a masterclass in modern rock musicianship. Punching out the brutal Written; the crushing Centred And One; Catalyst’s hectic radio rock riffage; the signature classic and viral YouTube hit Aeromancy; a brand new song called Detritus (Dorje’s heaviest song so far) and Flower Of Life, their most recent release and a ridiculous odd-meter rampage was more than enough to satisfy a crowd equally happy to stand still in an attempt to absorb Dorje’s power through osmosis, or charge in circles in a mosh pit. It’s also all the more impressive when you consider that right before doing the above, Dorje had already played The Underworld in Camden just an hour previously.

Dorje are living proof that if you push yourself, you can make great things happen – and for the ACM students present, class was in session here. If those punters apply the same level of focus to their courses as they did to Dorje, they’re going to go very far indeed.

With doors opening unusually late (9pm) and the show pushing into Friday night club territory by the time The Qemists (94%) kicked off, the headliners found themselves facing a slowly but steadily dwindling audience. Not that their musicianship should be called into question as a result – these guys pushed the energy levels through the roof, proving past comparisons to Pendulum and The Prodigy accurate in terms of bloody-minded ferocity while adding some secret sonic sauce of their own. While the likes of Jungle, Let It Burn, Anger, Warrior Sound, Take It Back and Run You were summoned forth onstage, the remaining Player’s Lounge faithful went batshit crazy.

When you can look to stage left and see a pit, and check out stage right and see a mass of dancers grinding the final moments away, you know you’re in the presence of a band who’ve managed to merge two very disparate musical approaches seamlessly. Fair play to The Qemists – like Dorje before them, their name may be tough to pronounce, but they need to be added to your list of bands to see before you die.

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Posted on 14 September 2016

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