Camp Wavelength Review: Dirty Frigs31 August 2015 / by Jonathan Rodil (author)
There’s more than meets the eye when it comes to Toronto’s Dirty Frigs. Yes, it’s an overused cliché used for the band, but this is true to their performance at Camp Wavelength. Their dazed form of garage rock is dense. It feels slow and they’re not the types to build on a theatrical appearance, but it’s all about the spookish allure of mystery that the band evokes.
Their set was right after Kurt Marble who graced the main stage with a charismatic set leading off the wave of performances for the evening. Kurt had mentioned Dirty Frigs several times during his set as they were no formal introduction for the band. They set up and when everything was ready to go, they played in an instant without notice. Strange, but fitting for what lay ahead.
The Dirty Frigs were stringent in terms of focus and in delivering an austere performance of a sound that suggests otherwise. Guitarist Duncan Hay Jennings and bassist Lucas Savatti gave off the impression of a tested chemistry in their work, and set off the supernatural element present in the band’s aesthetic. At one point, they sought a way out of earthly, twangy tones and toured into a space of psych-exploration. This feeling of otherworldliness was further represented by guitarist and lead vocalist Bria Salmena, who performed blankly staring into the audience and seemed to be in a trance, possessed-like state the entire time. She even teetered across the edge of stage when things got more intense and haunting with her hair masking her face in way that was Samara-esque*. As Bria alternated between vocals and guitar, she was more in tune with her vocals. It was powerful and malleable according to her will where she seamlessly transitioned into loud and soft vocals according to the tone of the music, whether it was coolly detached or in roaring abandonment.
The music was felt among those in attendance, though you couldn’t really tell peering over the crowd. Considering the time of day, there was a noticeable distance between performer and audience – the sun was still out and this is usual in earlier sets, but the audience eased into it over time. This easing into was propelled forward by the heavy, tight rhythms of drummer Edan Scime, where the crowd proceeded to latch onto the classic head-nod. Even more, it was the slightly odd and serious nature of the dance moves delivered by Bria, which might have gotten the people more engaged in a semblance of movement, enough for a sway from side to side, building on the aforementioned head nod. As well, her stage movement could be described as awkward in a way, yet endearing in execution, for the music wasn’t something that you would normally dance to and it sent permission for things to get a little loose and weird.
For Dirty Frigs, it’s all in the details that unravel itself, if you give it a closer look and some time to ponder. They come through as a mystery, questions are raised from the subtle outward appearance paired with a sound that holds an eerie mystique. In their set, the sludgy and hazy layers of the noise painted a picture of unknowing doom and a minimally striking horror, placed as ideas ordinary to the Dirty Frigs world.
* From the overlooked horror remake, The Ring.