Something that I usually pay attention to when attending a familiar-to-me band is: how much does the music I’m about to listen to sound like the music that I listen to?

We all know and love that spine tingly, hair-on-the neck sensation.  That usually happens for me in a split-second moment of sonic recognition and memory recall.  Music in headphones is my first port of call when seeking these sensations.  I actively listen to music to be blown away.  I expect it to happen seldom, but I do expect it to happen. And though Spotify is a beautiful thing in many regards, and less so in others, one thing it does well is provide a massive amount of music immediately and those spine-tingling sensations can be found in legion because I can just search for songs that I love, or let them come to me via random playlists and that section on Spotify of bands that fall in similar categories as each other.  I can find those spine-tingling songs at a rapid pace.  It is the most immediate expression of a band’s creativity and art form.  In other words, it’s the music we hear that gives us an idea as to what a band is all about.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018 was my first Django Django concert, and it really did feel like I was hearing them for the first time.  I knew that I was going to a concert, but I had no idea what to expect.  How could I?  I’ve been listening to “Found You” from their 2015 release Born Under Saturn, several times per day for almost a month and well, not much else.  This song lyrically, rhythmically, arrangement-wise, just does it for me.  This isn’t a review of that song, but I could go off on a tangent about that gem.

After living in the UK and consuming music at a fervent pace to combat the blues, I heard the stompy, sprawling, psychedelic and oh-so-catchy “Default”, from their Mercury Prize nominated, eponymous first album, Django Django.  I was hooked.   The next track, “Firewater”, a low-fi, lost in the desert, psych-clapper jam about getting drunk in the desert was really a pivotal “okay I’m going to listen to this for a long time” moment.  But this is a concert review, no?

Like I said, I didn’t really know what to expect, but I sure was hoping for something immediate, direct and well, familiar (see spine-tingling sensations). What I ended up with was not beyond expectation but just really different. Different isn’t at all bad.  I know they played “Default” and “Firewater” but other than that, I don’t know what I heard.  And perhaps this is indicative of how much more of their catalogue I need to peruse. For a crowd on a Tuesday night at Lee’s Palace, a venue that can be sonically challenging, I was absolutely blown away by how much energy this band brought, especially that of singer Vincent Neff.  This was not an arty, psychedelic, Mercury Prize nominated band.  This was a dance club act, complete with sweating, writhing early 20 to 30-somethings seriously enjoying themselves.  The lighting was terrible, the acoustics less than ideal and yet the sweat flowed like the energy back and forth between band and audience.  It was that oh-so-welcome experience, differences between albums’ sound and concert be damned.  See this band.

Words and Photos by Mitchell Eric Cohen