As the days get colder and nights become darker, opportunity to get loose and have yourself a crazy evening are becoming seldom. However, that hasn’t stopped Django Django from ending their year with another frenzy of summer-y, art-pop infused electro. Taking to the stage in front of a sold out Melkweg, the London-based quartet played their last show of a busy 2015 in front of one of the most energetic crowds Amsterdam has seen all year. Read on for a full live review.
Joining the band on tour were the Liverpool-based trio Stealing Sheep, who last played in Holland when they supported Alt J at the Tivoli Leidsche Rijn a couple of years ago. With new album Not Real having been released earlier this year, the trio took to the stage wearing matching neon leotards and sunglasses. The more electro-heavy emphasis which the trio placed on Not Real was definitely present through, particularly on recent single Apparition. Stealing Sheep are currently one of the most intriguing underground bands around, although it’s not very evident whether they’ll be able to smash through the glass ceiling they’re very close to reaching. Set closer Shut Eye, taken from 2012’s Into the Diamond Sun, gave the set an energetic and rocking ending which ensured that Stealing Sheep definitely have a future on Dutch stages.
As the lights dimmed thirty minutes later for Django Django’s arrival, a video screen projected a monochrome version of new album Born Under Saturn’s artwork, with 2012’s self-titled album opener Hail Bop opening the set. A fuzzy synth preceded the track on Introduction as frontman Vincent Neff’s Tarantino whistles and drummer Dave MacLean’s tribal percussion lead into Hail Bop’s jangly guitars. “Hail to the bop, believe me” sang Neff during the chorus as people instantly lost themselves to the music. Bassist Jimmy Dixon’s pulsating rhythms underpinned the song nicely, whilst keyboardist Tommy Grace proved a pivotal piece in the Django Django puzzle over the following 90 minutes. Storm, one of 11 songs played from their self-titled debut, followed instantly with an emphasis on percussion and Neff’s in-your-face vocals. “You always run when I try to run” he sang, before his almost ‘trademark’ guitar jangles appeared. This hard-to-describe guitar sound is present on so many of the band’s songs, having become a quintessential part of their output.
Over the course of the evening, the band played a mere five songs from new album Born Under Saturn. Shake & Tremble was the first new track to be pulled out of the bag, building up intriguingly thanks to pulsating snares and an ear-shattering fuzz warble. Throw in a lilting bassline and some trademark guitars and you’ve got yourself another classic Django Django track. As the verses kicked in, MacLean’s percussion switched from pulsating along to shuffling along as rhythm showed its face more predominantly. The more electronic lead single First Light followed, making use of wobbly synths and a swirling chorus to entice an already-into it crowd. Reflections’ opening synth arpeggios were subsequently accompanied by a jazzy saxophone melody, ensuring that plenty of danceable elements were yet again on show. Although you might get the feeling that a lot of Django Django songs sound similar, there’s always something going on to set it apart from other songs and make it exciting. Whether it be hip-shaking percussion, head-nodding synths or Neff’s classic guitar sound, Django Django have it all. Love’s Dart slowed down the pace slightly, introducing a more Western-sound which Slow West subsequently built upon. Here, MacLean positions himself behind a cardboard box intended for percussive purposes (using coconuts as drumsticks), whilst Neff switches his usual guitar for an acoustic one. Slow West forms part of the soundtrack for a movie of the same name, directed by Michael Fassbender.
Firewater’s obscure percussion and groove-laden bassline followed, making way for the massive Waveforms. Whereas Firewater is a bit slower, Waveforms throws the rulebook out of the window and focusses itself on one thing – having fun. If the crowd reaction was anything to go by, then Waveforms absolutely blew the roof off. Skies Over Cairo’s waspy synths followed in similar fashion, utilizing more oriental sounding rhythms and sounds to add a hint of obscurity to proceedings. As the main set slowly worked its way towards an end, Pause Repeat made for one massive party which saw Stealing Sheep re-join the band onstage to add percussive value. From Pause Repeat onwards, it felt almost as though Django Django were unstoppable. Default followed, and it garnered the biggest reception of the whole evening. Neff’s well-recognized guitar lick was underpinned by hands-in-the-air percussion and hip-shaking bass, making it one of the biggest moments of the evening. Penultimate main set track Life’s a Beach was more laid back and guitar-centric, before WOR’s bright red lighting and chaotic closing brought the main set to a manic end. During the breakdown, Neff successfully orchestrated a sit-down which saw the whole crowd eventually jump up as the song kicked back into gear.
Returning for a two-song encore, the band first pulled one more Born Under Saturn track out of the bag – 4000 Years. This one’s a bit more laid-back, however it nonetheless makes use of interesting percussion and rhythm combinations. The second half of the track really let itself go, making way for show-closer Silver Rays. Upbeat synth melodies and obscure sounds were present throughout, before the show ultimately came to an absolutely cataclysmic ending. Not one person was left standing still as the whole floor lost themselves in the music. As the show came to an end, one thing was very clear – there is no one out there right now who does it like Django Django do it. You’ll be hard pushed to think of a band who sound remotely like them, let alone one who combines music and visuals so beautifully in a live setting. If there were more bands around right now along the lines of Django Django, live music would be very, very exciting.
Click here for more pictures from Saturday’s show.