Don Broco are one of the most exciting and dynamic bands on the British indie rock scene. They’ve evolved somewhat, from a pop-rock sound to a heavier and more experimental genre, but have maintained the energy that made them so engaging in the first place. I saw them at the Lemon Grove, which was the final stop of their British tour, accompanied by rap-rock bands The LaFontaines and Yungblud.
Yungblud was the first group to perform. They had some catchy songs and plenty of energy, but were let down by a lack of connection with the audience. The lead singer tried to reach out to the crowd, dedicating a song to ‘those who feel misunderstood’. This elicited a response from some. But most were unimpressed, thinking he was trying too hard to be edgy, when in reality his antics were a bit annoying. A man standing next to me said he tried to like them, but found the lead singer’s forced charisma distinctly unappealing.
Up next were The LaFontaines, who were far more impressive, playing an array of lively and uplifting songs. This was clearly reflected in the crowd’s reaction – there were far more people dancing and waving their hands in the air. The only thing letting The LaFontaines down was that as a rap-rock group, I felt the atmosphere wasn’t as enthused as it could have been with a more conventional indie band. This isn’t to fault The LaFontaines, but the crowd probably wasn’t accustomed to their unique style. I also felt both The LaFontaines and Yungblug were let down by a lack of a live bassist, the former having resorted to a recorded bass since last month.
Don Broco kicked off with one of their most well-known songs, ‘Pretty’. It was a great start to their act: the crowd immediately made a mosh pit where I was standing and went wild. The atmosphere was incredible – I absolutely loved it despite losing my jumper and accidentally tripping over. After the first song, there was a long wait because of some technical difficulties, and the fact that the crowd was so manic they were endangering the technical staff at the back.
Once those had been resolved, the rest of the evening was sublime. Don Broco played a mix of their newer, more electronic songs like ‘Good Listener’ and ‘Come Out to LA’, and their older, more pop-sounding songs like ‘Superlove’ and ‘Automatic’. The contrast between the two styles worked perfectly, I found myself singing and dancing to all of them. I also loved how immersive the whole experience was, with plenty of banter with the crowd and loads of people taking off their shirts and waiving them around for the final song, ‘T-Shirt Song’.
One of the most touching moments was midway through the gig, when Rob Damiani, the lead singer, spotted a couple kissing in the middle of the crowd. He invited them up on stage, and dedicated a song to them and to love. Corny as this may sound, I found it really sweet; it exemplified the strong connection Don Broco have with their fans. At the end of the night, Rob said Exeter had been his favourite venue. Whether he said that everywhere they’d toured I don’t know, but I certainly believed him.
Overall, Don Broco were absolutely incredible. They are everything you could want from a rock band. To properly appreciate them, you must see them live, where they really come into their own. As I write the day after, I’m tired, I’ve lost my voice and my hearing, but I don’t regret it for a second: Don Broco are a must-see.
– Owen Bell
Featured image courtesy of Chuff Media