The last couple of weeks have seen, it has to be said, something of a January drought when it comes to interesting gigs, as we gear up the anticipation of oncoming new-year releases. Support act Dublin Duck Dispensary do little to funnel away that feeling of gloom with a disappointing, if thankfully short, opening set that’s not really the rallying cry for new music we were hoping for. Bobby Aherne crashes through a few dozen songs in rapid-fire – two-minute episodes of scuzz-pop debris – with a plucky swagger, and a tin-can microphone effect that does little to warrant some Times New Viking lo-fi curiosity, if that’s what the band were after. Closer ‘Manners’ was encouraging, but on Aherne’s own admission, these were songs about “nothing, and no-one” lazily pitched to the crowd.
We Have Band, the London indie-disco trio who’ve had the blogosphere somewhat of a-flutter recently, put on, in blazing contrast, a truly stomping set – their frisky post-new rave, gloom-gilded disco-rock rustling up the perfect remedy for the winter chill. Opening with the infectious electro-popping crush of ‘Hear It In The Cans’, with tidy overlapping vocals, popcorn beats and stirring space-synth bridge, the three-piece are instant crowd-charmers. Dede WP (never without maracas, a cymbal, or a cowbell in hand) and her husband Thomas are an illustrious multi-instrumental presence, but it’s the snaking hips, intense and absurd enthusiasm of Darren Bancroft (taking the lead with vocals, and several sample, synth and percussion-bashing responsibilities) that really thrills, and galvinizes the icier moments of their set.
The band’s multidimensional but militant groove (of particular highlights ‘Oh!’ and ‘You Came Out’) is gleaming with surging, heaving hooks and tumble-down bass, but has a darker twinge that underlies their songs with some deceptive, more hostile poignancy – making them an altogether more compelling proposition than the likes of their Pet Shop Boys cover late in the show might suggest. They’ve seen themselves compared to Hot Chip almost everywhere they go, mostly unfairly, perhaps, and New Young Pony Club, maybe even more unfairly, as well as elder authorities (Human League, Talking Heads) – but they’re proudly drenched in their influences, and while desperately trendy, have no suffocating need to be, sounding a bit more like the future than they do past or present, with the style and substance of a band years into their game.
Photo taken from Turquiose Boy’s Flickr.