Dry Cleaning at The Basement East (Nashville, TN)

The Basement East is a staple of the Nashville music scene, owned and operated by the same people who brought you Grimey’s New and Pre-loved Music and the original Basement. Nicknamed “Beast” this mid-sized venue is located east of the Cumberland River. I found myself at the Basement East on a Monday night (July 11th), to see Dry Cleaning (the band) making their Nashville debut. They are a post punk band from south London and they are very British. Opening up for them was Weak Signal, a lesser known band from New York City.

Weak Signal is a project by Mike Bones, who is established as one of the best guitarists in the independent/underground scene in New York. He started this band with Sasha Vine (bass) and Tran Huynh (drums). Their band had heavy guitar parts, boomy drums and Mike’s nonchalant vocals. Their lyrics are funny and lightweight. I got a sense of their humor just by looking at them because two out of three band members were wearing sunglasses inside at night.

Dry Cleaning is such a strange band, the thing that is so intriguing about them is the juxtaposition of the music and the vocals. Some of my all-time favorite lyrics from the show was “just an emo, dead stuff collector”. Also “ring ring, ring ring, hello?”  A moment in a song where the lead vocalist pretends to answer the phone. Their songs are post-punk, fun and bass heavy, but the lead singer’s sardonic monologue stands out against it. Florence Shaw the lead vocalist is not a big performer but she twirls her hair and drags her hands along the mic stand. This leaves room for Lewis Maynard (bass), Tom Dowse (guitar) and Nick Buxton (drummer) to take up space and dance around the stage. 

After reading more about their band online I find myself with continued interest. The lead singer doesn’t have any musical experience prior to joining the band. Now she finds herself in these crazy adventures and touring not just England but the US as well. They’ve gained a lot of unforeseen attention since releasing their debut EP in 2018. My first thought about their songwriting was that the songs sound like a collection of thoughts throughout the day. They sound like the song wasn’t taken out of one moment but is a collection of phrases with similar moods. Like their songs are the equivalent of a poetic mood board. In a live interview/performance with KEXP Florence Shaw says her lyrics start with collecting things in her notes, things that she reads on the bus, interesting phrases that she overheard, anything that peaks her interest really. I found her lyrics so enchanting and honest because they’re reflective of everyday life. Ordinary things can be combined in interesting ways as Flo describes surreal imagery with a deadpan delivery.

Overall I would say the crowd had a good time, with light dancing and chuckles. It was a great way to spend a Monday night and I look forward to seeing Dry Cleaning and Weak Signal in Nashville again soon.

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