As Django Django bopped around the stage (in matching striped t-shirts, no less) at New York’s Bowery Ballroom, the band’s appeal is easy to see. If nothing else, the Edinburgh-via-London group’s mesmerizing psychedelic music is fun, pulling together twanged-up British Invasion rock riffs, buoyant synth pop, and Kraftwerk-ian drones, all while remaining crisply modern.
It’s a sound that brings to mind elements of Spiritualized, a bit of Hot Chip, and most evidently, the dearly-missed Beta Band. That last one begins to make sense: Turns out Django Django’s drummer and producer David Maclean is the brother of Beta Band’s John Maclean. Through steady word-of-mouth and an adventurous, catchy self-titled record, Django Django — which has been nominated for this year’s Mercury Prize — the group has found critical acclaim and rising popularity for its youthful originality.
On stage, singer and guitarist Vincent Neff proves to be a wildly enigmatic and animated presence, especially when singing closely-paired harmonies and chants. While Django Django’s nearly-hour-long set toned down some its album’s inventive production tricks on songs like “Default” or “Life Is A Beach,” the band still showed a knack for its raw live showmanship by juking up song tempos to an ecstatic gallop on these dance-ready songs.
Still, Django Django found places to stretch the song arrangements thanks to tribal drum breakdowns where each member — Neff, drummer and producer David Maclean, bassist Jimmy Dixon and keyboardist Tommy Grace — set aside their guitars and synths to bang on comically oversized tambourines, clopping on coconut halves and wood blocks, and even a perfectly-timed rattle from a vibraslap.
Elsewhere in the set, Django Django huddled over an impressive array of vintage keyboards and synths — all creating warmly textured flutters of noise and simple repeated melodies.
And just as these musical diversions began to veer dangerously into drum circle territory, the band knew exactly when to joyfully fold it all back together for a final chorus. Django Django may still be a young band, but its members are acutely aware what they want to be, and just polished enough to pull it off. With a live show this fun, Django Django is certainly a group to keep an eye on as its career develops.