When we chatted to Dave Maclean about their live show, he said “The record was made in a bedroom with a very limited range of equipment. It was a lot of fun – lots of layering, effects boxes, messing around. It’s hard to take that to the stage so we didn’t try. We just treat it as a new project. We strip things back, make the rock n roll ones more raw and the dance grooves heavier and longer.”
Last night, Scottish act Django Django rolled into Toronto and hit up the Opera House for a show. Was it as Dave Maclean described above? Read on to find out.
The openers were Night Moves, who are from Minneapolis and noted it was their first time in Canada. Perhaps surprisingly, our accents aren’t exactly as portrayed on US television shows, are they?
The country indie rock band started with a slow rock opener, which morphed into a complex and upbeat tune. I was impressed and looking forward to more of their set. Unfortunately, I thought the first song was the high point of their set.
The next tune was also slow but with a few good riffs. However, it dragged on a bit with no real punch. I felt the same after the third song, when I realized that their songs are kind of anonymous, without a stand out or memorable chorus. They start off quite good and then sort of drag out to a non-chorus. I don’t necessarily need a chorus, but bands that are great at pulling that off are often called “Radiohead.”
John Pelant provides some very solid vocals and I would say Night Moves have some potential, so don’t write them off yet, but they didn’t hit the mark with their set.
Django Django took to the Opera House stage at 9:15pm and kicked off with Introduction. The track had some cool synth effects, while visually, the band played in front of some Venetian blind-like screens, with giant light bulbs behind the screens and which were also being projected onto the screens. Could I say “screen” any more times in that last sentence?
Like on the album, Introduction bled into Hail Bop. The track took on a bit more of a dance rock feel, and came off as Franz Ferdinand-esque, and not just because they’re both Scottish. Okay, just because they’re both Scottish. The band were energetic, often jumping and bouncing around. The end of the track turned into a full on dance floor banging track. Hail Bop led straight into the 3rd track, Storm, and the concert was more like a loud and awesome DJ set.
Storm was upbeat, loud, and almost unrecognizable in a good way. The projector was flashing lights at the stage and the screens – I’m not sure how it didn’t drive them crazy (or how our PHM photographer Martin managed to take quality pictures). The vocals were a bit different than studio due to the layering on album, but not to the detriment of any songs.
“This is our biggest ever gig in Toronto. It’s a big deal to us. We just learned John Candy is from your hometown. We’re big fans.” Crazy to think that John Candy has been dead for 19 years as of the start of this month.
Up next was Firewater, with the bass a little funkier than on the album (or my stereo sucks and I just noticed the bass line). The track is much better live, including a cool beat switch up midway through.
Waveforms followed, with the crowd still dancing in small pockets. The song’s chanting wasn’t as good as the album, but the song did have more blips (for lack of a technical term) and was definitely more dancey. The song had an extended outro, with the band giving some shout outs to the crowd.
The track that followed was probably the weakest song of the night – Love’s Dart. It suffered because the vocals didn’t carry the song as well as they do on the studio album, and the track kind of meandered near the end.
Before the next track, the band announced that “we’re going to get the acoustic guitar out and relax things.” Hand of Man was their way of relaxing things, and the song came off well and got the crowd clapping along.
“People of Toronto, are you ready to come up up up with us?” the band asked as they launched into the Middle Eastern-sounding instrumental track, Skies Over Cairo. The lighting was well done, providing shadows of the mallets that Dave Maclean was playing. Django Django could’ve lost people with a slow song followed by an instrumental, but they pulled it off well.
I almost didn’t recognize the next track at first, until the killer guitar riff of Default kicked in. The track was a bit of a clutter of noise at times, and drowned out some of the best parts of the song, with the intro riff not hitting with its usual punch.
Life’s A Beach started off with a fierce staccato and remained strong throughout. Before launching into the final song, WOR, the band announced that “this is our last song,” which was followed by the inevitable chorus of boos. They aptly pointed out that they only have one album, but will hopefully be back in the future with more songs. I hope so too!
The band came back on to play Silver Rays, which had a few new clickity clack beats and oddly seemed to be way louder than all of the other tracks.
The genre-jumping, eclectic debut album of Django Django took on a life of its own in a live setting. The tracks were more dancey, almost Hot Chip-like at times, and showed the potential direction that band could explore on album number 2. It was nice to see the band not only pull of the craziness of the album, but to build and expand on its sound at a concert. Come back soon, lads.
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PHM Rating for Night Moves: 6.5 out of 10
PHM Rating for Django Django: 8.5 out of 10
Setlist for Django Django @ The Opera House, Toronto, Canada – March 12, 2013
1 – Introduction
2 – Hail Bop
3 – Storm
4 – Firewater
5 – Waveforms
6 – Love’s Dart
7 – Hand of Man
8 – Skies Over Cairo
9 – Default
10 – Life’s A Beach
11 – WOR
12 – Silver Rays