There are few bands, inside the little musical niche that Django Django have excavated, that are capable of delivering the energy levels that their beat-driven, synth-heavy tunes deserve. But at Rescue Rooms on Tuesday 22 March, these fellows proved that accessing that energy was as easy as plugging in your phone. Though the crowd was a little tamer than I usually hope for in such a small venue, the minute the double D stepped on stage, a certain electricity crackled in the air – and it wasn’t just their warbling synths and bouncing toms.
After opening with the title track from their new album, ‘Marble Skies’, the lads took their audience on a whistle-stop tour through fan-favourites from all three of their albums, often morphing well-known tunes into extended jams.
“You descend into an electronica trance-state”
These jams are really where a lot of the pleasure lies in a Django Django show; as the syncopated beats pound, you can’t help feeling mesmerised, as you descend into an electronica trance-state. This could be easily observed in a few especially enthusiastic members of the crowd, who turned Stealth’s sister-bar into a temporary tribal ceremony, with frantically waving arms and body movements that seemed to break all known laws of physics.
I was half expecting a jungle shaman to appear and offer me a hearty cup of ayahuasca. But it wouldn’t have been necessary – with tunes like ‘First Light’ and ‘Skies Over Cairo’, we were already being transported to other strange worlds by the band’s compositional prowess.
The percussion was one element that really stood out in the gig. Not only does Django Django’s drummer David MacLean lock down solid, danceable yet surprisingly complex beats and delicious fills, singer Vincent Neff occasionally chimes in on his own smaller selection of toms, snares and cymbals, to bring additional oomph to the rhythm.
“It was hard to resist a little boogie”
The centrality of rhythm and percussion to Django Django’s style really becomes clear live, not just in the drums themselves but in the way the band members bounce about on stage. It’s a simple thing, but I’m sure many concert-goers would agree that seeing a band enjoying themselves onstage is a hugely infectious thing – and this was the case with Django Django; it was hard to resist a little boogie when the music-makers were showing you how it’s done so well.
Percussion isn’t the only strength the band possesses. Each band-member exhibits a virtuosity in their own right; Jimmy Dixon delivers rich, deep licks on both bass guitar and synth bass, while Tommy Grace’s breezy synths weave in and out of Neff’s reverb-soaked guitars to evoke a sound that can only be described as cybernetic Beach Boys; a robot-surfer-beach-party.
The show was brought together nicely by a trippy, vapour-wave- inspired visualiser behind the band, which complimented the mesmerising tunes perfectly. The volume mixing of the instruments was solid, though the vocals did become a little lost in the mix. This was a shame because Neff’s ecstatic, punctuating cries of “OOH!” were pushed slightly back from their rightful position at the sonic forefront of the mix.
“The songs that were included were all extremely enjoyable”
The set-list itself was pretty solid, though lacking a few tunes I would like to have heard (realising ‘Reflections’ and ‘Hail Bop’ were not going to be played was something I’m still trying to get over). However, the songs that were included were all extremely enjoyable, with some of the best being ‘Life’s A Beach’, ‘Waveforms’ and ‘Tic Tac Toe’. After 6 years, Django Django have proven themselves to be more than capable of sustaining their initial live-show energy, and I’m excited to experience the tribal, musical journeys they lead us on in the future.
Image courtesy of Django Django Facebook Page