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Django Django execute every wonky note perfectly at KOKO

21 May 2015, 10:57 | Written by Sam Warner

On their first major headline tour in three years, for new album Born Under Saturn, the UK’s finest quirky-pop auteurs Django Django continue to justify the hype.

The art rock foursome have come a long way since their self-tited debut racked-up high praise in 2012, and while their all-embracing riffs and Beach Boys-esque harmonics have been their calling card, tonight’s KOKO show (19th May) demonstrates more of the quiet substance that truly made Django Django such an exciting group in the first place.

Unexpectedly, the band launch in with the one-two of “Intro” and “Hail Bop” from their debut, shrouded in a wash of neon blue with the four members’ faces obscured until the guitar riff finally kicks in. “First Light” gives the crowd a first taste of their new LP, the song given more urgency than on record. It outshines its predecessors in the set list, the band cracking out a surprising bag of treats throughout the whole evening. Where an anticipated tune like “Default” proves a strong staple, it pales in comparison to a euphoric “Skies Over Cairo” with its Ancient Egyptian-esque melody.

“Reflections” also fires on all cylinders, with a member of support act Roller Trio joining the band to blast a sax. “We’re gonna go somewhere…” declares Django front man Vincent Neff; wherever it is we’re going tonight, it’s somewhere between a jungle and the Star Trek Voyager. Every wonky note, every ping of a synth chord is masterfully executed, and no song better demonstrates the Djangos’ live power than “Waveforms”, a set highlight. In front of projected of oscillating waves, the band literally shake the room with heavy bass and gravitate into a magnetic jam.

These extended breakdowns give the four-piece that extra entertainment factor, and Neff’s attitude as a front man is both fun and showman-like, but also detached when necessary. There are intimate moments too, with “Beginning To Fade” swapping woozy guitars for a standard acoustic, though it’s a moment that lacks the strength of their upbeat trademarks. The main set ends with “WOR”, an air raid siren kicking in and commanding everyone to attention, before the jumping riff ensures frenzy. It’s a fun and surprising way to end the set. The inevitable encore delivers “Silver Rays”, the closer on Django Django, giving the band a worthy sendoff that still leaves everyone begging for more.

Though they only have two albums under their belt, the Djangos have a wonderfully aloof showmanship and sense of maturity that many bands at their stage lack. If at times some of their songs seem lesser than others – many tracks on their new album feel at times like filler – in a live setting these overlooked works gain real purpose – “Waveforms” a prime example. The sonic underlining and complication of many of these tracks also seem more potent, more urgent. Django Django are a mystery at times, but their live show allows them to come out of their shell, and that’s no bad thing.

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