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Los Angeles’ Drab Majesty are a post-punk duo who dress themselves in white leather jackets and futuristic shades like intergalactic bikers, have a slew of songs about the UFO cult Heaven’s Gate, and kicked off their set by eating white roses. That may not be what you would expect for one of the most memorable performances of the fest, but their show at local electronic label Holodeck’s (founded by S U R V I V E member Adam Jones) showcase last night at Hotel Vegas proved that their unconventional approach to a well-worn genre is what makes them a must-see act.
Led by vocalist and guitarist Deb DeMure, the alter ego of Andrew Clinco, and augmented by keyboardist and backing vocalist Mona D, aka Alex Nicolaou, Drab Majesty sounds simply heavenly, with bright guitars and warm synths out lushing the lushet dream-pop group. What separates them from most post-punk bands, and why they have nowhere to go but up towards celestial heights, is that even with their left-field presentation, they know how to rock. Deb knows a hot lick at first sight, even when it’s dripping in reverb and shimmer. He would occasionally get close to the crowd and point his guitar triumphantly, bringing a whiff of 80s guitar god into their voyage. They’ve always been a mesmerizing presence just from their appearance, and this is another step towards expanding their live presence. For just coming off a massive European tour, they had energy to spare. Their set emphasized their more propulsive tracks, like “39 By Design” and “Kissing the Ground,” the latter of which has lines that would be nervous if not for all the gorgeous effects. “Cold Souls” is an anthem for life beyond death, and its driving melody making gutsy rock into something beautiful and cosmic.
A Drab Majesty set is a study in contrasts: it’s aggressive and will have you feeling light-footed, there are 80s sounds abound and yet they sound like they come from a world where time is void, it’s inspired by space and makes you feel closer to the Earth. Even if you killed all your idols, Deb is beyond charismatic. Hotel Vegas became not a teeming pool of garage rock and quarter-baked psych like it usually is, but a space where new possibilities flourish. It’s stupid to predict the future in music, and I’ll say it anyway: Drab Majesty have what it takes to become a much bigger act than they are now.
Drab Majesty just released “Cannibal” through Holodeck’s compilation Holodeck Vision One, which also features tracks from S U R V I V E’s Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein, as well as local experimentalists like Troller, Michael C. Sharp, and Bill Converse. Austin isn’t just a hotbed for off-kilter electronic and rock, it knows how to cull from the best.