REVIEW: Django Django – Vicar Street, Dublin
After a lengthy introduction of static and feedback the band take their places to roars from the packed Vicar Street crowd.
Four decidedly skinny lads with their outré choice of shirts make them look more like lab geeks than a compelling art-rock band. They are Django Django; a multi-genre math-rock band that over the course of the night will transport these Dubliners to the furthest corners of the earth in one of their last shows on their current tour.
A thumping bass drum gradually fades in followed with lashings of snare until the band casually meanders into “Hail Bop”. Singer Vincent Neff displays excellent command of the stage; darting, strutting and swinging his guitar around but still managing to be at the microphone for his vocal contribution.
The first stop on our journey is the coast. The minimal aesthetic of “Storm” highlights the vocal harmonies between Neff and bassist Jimmy Dixon which are vaguely reminiscent of early Beach Boys tracks. “Shake and Tremble” continues this theme by taking us further down the shore with its Dick Dale-ish, surf rock sound.
The band’s performance of “First Light” suddenly hurls us into a more intergalactic milieu. It is at this point in our voyage we are taken on a more cerebral path even Stanley Kubrick couldn’t have masterminded. With its space-age synthesisers “First Light” becomes an early indication of the lengths Django Django are prepared to go to widen the spectrum of their performance.
“Love’s Dart” eases the crowd into a tribal groove with its jungle drum-beat while “Firewater” and “Skies Over Cairo” take us to a distant desert with the aid of an echoing saxophone providing that Egyptian aura. We see several members of the band digging into their toy-box to unveil some of the most exotic and extravagant instruments acquired on their travels. Everything from maracas to guiros eventually comes out, with the crowd giving a playful “WOOP!” every time Dixon plays the vibra-slap.
The band’s infamous crowd interaction becomes a key feature of the show. When prompted to get their hands in the air, an ocean of arms suddenly sprout upward and sway like an underwater kelp forest. Neff then suggests to “take it up a notch”, as the whole venue crouches down while the band build up the intensity until finally blasting into a huge breakdown on “WOR”.
Crowd favourite “Default” receives much love but doesn’t get half the reception “WOR” gets. The wailing of sirens accompanies the blood red light show of the finale. Sporadic flashes of white light briefly illuminate the mad faces of a horde in the heat of a truly intense and wonderful frenzy.
The encore brings our journey full circle and ends in the club with indie synth-pop track “Pause Repeat” inter-meshes with the ravey, tripped out light show accompanying “Silvery Rays”.
These former art students have now become professors of math-rock. The musical paradigm that Django Django presents to us is more like a paradox. There formula for their sound is so basic, stripped down and almost rudimentary, yet far more composite than ever being credited for. For this Dublin crowd though, none of this mattered. All boxes were ticked; everyone left sweaty, panting and red-faced, but most of all, they left grinning ear to ear. There’s no better evidence that a band is good at what it does than this.