Django Django are still their own kind of weird

Django DjangoBy Josh Herwitt //

Django Django with Beat Connection //
El Rey Theatre – Los Angeles
August 6th, 2015 //

What is it about Django Django that makes them such an intriguing band to see live? Is it their hand-clapping melodies or their strange, unconventional way of writing songs?

Those were the questions I was left pondering as I walked out of the El Rey Theatre just before midnight last Thursday following an exhilarating performance by the London four-piece and a feel-good opening set from Seattle electropop outfit Beat Connection (read our interview with the band here). On a night when a large percentage of LA music fans could be found at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery to see Australian neo-pysch rockers Tame Impala play the first of two sold-out shows, the boys in Django Django were winning over fans with their own brand of neo-psychedelia less than four miles away.

Django Django

Formed at Edinburgh College of Art in 2009, Django Django have captivated U.S. audiences in a relatively short amount of time, but more interestingly is the way they’ve done it. The band, for all intents and purposes, is really led by drummer and producer David Maclean, who is the brother of musician and director John Maclean (formerly of The Beta Band) and the cousin of singer/keyboardist Lindsey Leven (member of the Scottish band Gulp). While lead singer and guitarist Vincent Neff may be the face that fans most often connect with due to his onstage charisma, it’s Maclean who has served as the leading force and backbone of the artsy band, producing its self-titled debut album, which was nominated for a Mercury Prize in 2012.

Fast forward to 2015, and Django Django were finally back in LA for their first appearance in more than two years, this time touring in support of their sophomore LP Born Under Saturn. The album, with five of its 13 tracks becoming singles, reached No. 15 on the UK Albums Chart this past May, ultimately serving as a strong follow-up for Maclean, Neff, bassist Jimmy Dixon and synthesizer operator Tommy Grace, who also spent several songs behind Maclean’s drum kit assisting with the band’s percussion.

Django Django

It’s no secret, after all, that Django Django are a heavily percussive act, with a large number of shakers, scrapers, cowbells and other hand percussion instruments in their arsenal. Maclean, meanwhile, had essentially two drum setups on stage, with one being a wooden box — almost reminiscent of a cajón — that he played during acoustic versions of “Love’s Dart” and “Slow West”, a track the band wrote for the indie Western film that came out earlier this year. A few minutes before, the crowd had let out a collective roar as it heard the opening notes of “First Light”, the initial single from Born Under Saturn, and the energy returned to peak level when it was time to hear “Default”, still arguably the group’s most popular song to date and maybe no better indicator of the weirdness that Django Django exhibits sonically both in a recording studio and in a live setting.

With the last six songs of their set coming from Django Django, the band walked off stage for a brief moment, only to return for a two-song encore that was quite unique after a closer look. Wrapping up with the final tracks from both of their albums, Django Django left the crowd yearning for more, even if there wasn’t a whole lot remaining in their catalog to play at that point. While they’re not expected to perform in California again anytime soon, especially with the band members in the next phase of their lives after declining an appearance at Coachella this year, it may be a while before Django Django are back performing in The Golden State. And if so, it certainly felt good to at least catch them this time around.

Hail Bop
Shake and Tremble
First Light
Love’s Dart (acoustic)
Slow West (acoustic)
Skies Over Cairo
Life’s a Beach

4000 Years
Silver Rays


    Django Djano – Live at The El Rey 8/6/2015 pt.1

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: