Back in February, Scottish, English and Northern Irish buzz-band of the moment Django Django made their debut Irish live appearance in the sweaty confines of Grand Social. Their vast potential was limited by being squeezed onto a stage that was much too small to contain them, but nevertheless it was a performance worthy of the hype which preceded it and justified the praise that was simultaneously being heaped upon their eponymous debut album. Just over eight months on and the psychedelic foursome have been upgraded to the more suitable space of The Button Factory and the touts are in full swing in the laneways of Temple Bar, this one’s a sell-out.
Perhaps it’s the art college origins that allows them to get away with being collectively clad in matching gaudy shirts – an aesthetic reminder of how tight of a unit Django Django are, before the first chord is even struck. Tonight’s show kicks off in the same manner as that much-lauded debut album – an expansive take on ‘Introduction’ to segway into ‘Hail Bop’, as the three large screens behind the foursome come to life with an impressive synchronised visual display. It would be very easy for Django Django to fall into gimmicky territory – their un-polished sound possesses a ramshackle charm which could be dismissed as “quirky” before the realisation that there’s a whole lot of substance to it sets in. Elements of the old-school laden with modern effects yet still somehow managing to seem minimal, it’s not for nothing that their unusual sonic product has won over critics and fans alike. The vibrant tremeloed guitars of ‘WOR’ are reminiscent of a Wild West adventure, ‘Life’s A Beach’ recalls the surf-rock vibes of the sixties, before ‘Skies Over Cairo’ makes for a twisted electro take on Ancient Egypt – Django Django are musical time-travellers, and as it all unfolds live it’s nothing short of thrilling to behold.
Of course it helps that the band’s production mastermind just so happens to double-job as the drummer, too – David Maclean is the strong but silent driving force in the background, as the theatrics are left to his three counterparts. It’s mesmerising to watch Tommy Grace traverse his collection of keyboards and synthesisers (and a comedically oversized tambourine for good measure). Jimmy Dixon plays the role of the classic entertainer stage-right, over-zealous bass playing at its best, and not shy in downing his tool and lending his hand to percussion when needs be. Leading the charge is frontman Vincent Neff – his voice certainly isn’t the most unique or powerful currently doing the rounds, yet it matches and complements the music to a tee, and his banter between songs is humble and sincere. There are lulls in the set, however – following an explosive sprawling performance of ‘Waveforms’ with the lacklustre acoustics of ‘Hand of Man’ is all wrong, and attempts to change up their trademark tune ‘Default’ backfire as the finer points of its composition are lost in the din of flourishes that didn’t need to be added.
The next time Django Django hit Dublin they may well have ‘Album of the Year’ accolades under their matching belts, but it’s hard to see them being just a one-album-wonder. Their audience numbers will continue to increase, but it’s the expansion of their repertoire that we’ll be more interested in – they’ve set the bar high with both their debut album and live tour, but they’ve more than got the potential to sustain it.