Our Sunday began slowly, thanks to some silliness the previous evening. For reasons that are yet to become completely clear, we ended up accompanying our good friend Mike Haranouff (look out for him around The Lexington. You can’t miss him – he looks like a cartoon version of himself) while he DJed at Dingwalls. Such was the quality of Haranouff’s set, we required extra security to break up a fight and subsequently protect us from the rash of requests (threats?) he was receiving. As I left I noticed that one of the participants in the fight had been relieved of their hair extensions, the jet-white protrusion having been left forlornly on the sticky floor. Isn’t Camden delightful?
Rolo Tomassi are one of those bands – the ones that you mean to catch live but somehow miss at every single opportunity. Today, though, Best Fit finally managed to see the Steel City prodigies not once but twice, first in the faux opulence of Koko and later in the sticky-floored black box that is the Jazz Café. It is at the second of those shows that the band really show their teeth. In singer Eva Spence’s constant oscillation between panther-like snarl and wavering soprano Rolo Tomassi find their focal point – but it is the interplay between her pure, near hysterical rage and the head-down intricacies of the rhythm section that really encapsulates this band’s remarkable talent. One of the very best bands of the weekend.
Niki & The Dove’s live shows have always been entertaining. From their very first London dates in grimy trance venues there was a sense of occasion. In Koko, though, their carefully honed melodrama finally finds its natural home. Here the Swedish duo, backed by a drummer and a percussionist, look and sound like the band they always threatened to be: a widescreen, genre-agnostic pop outfit, too weird to ever really trouble the supermarket record-buying public, but unique enough in a live setting to equally confuse and enthral.
When people start walking out of your shows, you know you’re doing something right. Handfuls of punters left in varying states of irritation during the trio’s set, and it is quite easy to see why. Their music is uncanny in the truest sense: it suggests a clutch of tropes with which we are familiar from ‘conventional’ guitar music, but it never hits them square on. Micachu’s version of pop is unsettlingly close to the original artefact, each track sidling up to conventional guitar music, sniffing around for a bit, then going and sitting in a corner on its own. It is a rare and wonderful thing to watch a band with such a firm grasp on the fundaments of pop music, and such a complete disregard for its strictures. Bracing, inspiring stuff.
Brandt Brauer Frick are one of a small handful of contemporary acts experimenting as much with form as with content. Their ensemble shows, which see the trio perform intricate techno arrangements with seven classical players, are unique events which effortlessly straddle the intersection between dance music and contemporary classical composition. Tonight, though, the band play as a trio, piecing together 4/4 versions of some of the highlights from their two LPs. Much of the subtlety of those remarkable arrangements is lost in this new setup – but instead the audience is given a pummelling, with 45 minutes of constant kick drum interspersed with chopped and warped piano samples and live percussion. A reminder of the remarkable versatility of the !K7-signed outfit, and of the wonderful things that can happen when bands are willing to take on multiple forms.