January is shit. Everyone’s miserable, the weather is godawful, no one has any money, and there are virtually no gigs on. ‘They’ should do away with it; it’s doing nothing but pissing people off.
In lieu of the abolition of January, I can prescribe two things to assuage the pain of the dark months. One is a good alarm clock and a series of early nights, and the other is Casiokids.
Casiokids are amongst Norway’s finest – the exemplary good-times band. There is nothing complicated about them, nothing forced or contrived; just simple, danceable tunes with memorable melodies, performed with a smile.
Tonight’s show at Cargo gave a hint of the scale on which Casiokids should be operating. The production was far bigger than the stage, and seemed an unlikely fit for a band that are still carrying out their own roadying duties. The venue, cramped at the best of times, felt like the front twenty rows at Brixton; full of sweaty, smiling, contorted bodies. There was a confetti cannon for God’s sake – normally the preserve of venues five times the size of this East London railway arch. But rather than looking like a band trying to live out unattainable stadium fantasies, Casiokids appeared absolutely ready to headline festivals. As I wrote last time I saw them, back in their native Bergen, if ever there was a tent-filling band, this is it.
Musically, Casiokids deal in the sort of pop that Metronomy would be making if they turned down the irony and turned up the fun. It’s a pot luck of gleaming, ‘80s synth sounds, four on the floor drum patterns, marching bass lines, and frequent breakdowns. Their most recent record, Aabenbaringen Over Aaskammen, meanders at times, its forward motion stymied by too much thinking. But it is the live setting in which Casiokids excel. The overwhelming sense is one of generosity; they understand that the audience is there to dance, that they want to smile and jump and make twats of themselves – and the band are there to facilitate that. There is no self-indulgence in a Casiokids show (save, it must be said, for a single misjudged synth solo), just charmingly naïve enthusiasm.
During the final song the band grabbed an audience member, thrust a guitar into her arms, and made her play. Not just for a few bars, but for the whole song. In any other circumstance this would spell nail-biting embarrassment. But Casiokids’ ability to make a crowd feel at home is such that it wouldn’t have mattered if the girl had tried to play the instrument with her teeth; it still would have looked like a perfectly natural end to an evening during which everyone forgot about January, and just concentrated on having fun together. What a lovely band.