In the three years since “Default” snapped my head back as I sat listening to a tinny online stream of London’s XFM radio, I’ve declared Django Django one of the best indie pop bands in the world. And I’ve seen them in the world, too.
I first pulled aside singer Vinny Neff after a tent show at Field Day festival in London in 2012, then later that year hung out with keyboardist Tommy Grace watching Björk and her choir, wigs and electromagnetic cage at Pukkelpop in Belgium. I interviewed and hung out with the lads in Toronto in March 2013, and a few months later was the only person on the field watching a cold and windy soundcheck at Barcelona’s Primavera festival. 2014 was a quiet year – though the band all went off and got married, had children, fixed up their flats and planned the release of their second platter, Born Under Saturn.
But toward the tail end of 2015, on the night of Canada’s exciting national leadership election, Django Django finally made it to the city in which I live. They were kicking off their tour, as many do here. If Day 1 shows can be laggy, Django hid it well. Now used to playing large fields, here they found themselves in a city they’ve never been, in a dodgy neighbourhood, their opening act and tour manager held at the border, in front of a lot of faces who’d never seen them before. But still, here they were, armed with good will and a mighty groove.
A Django show is never, ever just average…even on election night. A Django show is a party, and it’s a dance. It’s a waving-his-hands-above-his-head-Northern Irish-man-showing-you-how-to-clap-along sort of party. It’s about asking the crowd to sit down on the floor, then, when the music tells you to, to jump up off it. It’s about treating the small club crowd as if they’re a big arena sea, with wild strobes and flashes of sound. It’s about a joyous opening with “Intro”, bopping into the righteous “Hail Bop”, then a large rumbling “Storm” and “Shake and Tremble.” It’s about sunshine and beaches and kaleidoscope colours with “First Light”. It’s about smiles and rays beaming out from Tommy’s face and keyboard and Jimmy Dixon’s studious bass forwarding the motion.
And mostly, it’s about a rumbling, propulsive drum beat that always makes you pause, sometimes stare at the handsome redhead at the back, and remember why you like Django Django so much. Whether it’s Dave playing “Love’s Dart” and a heehaw “Slow West” on a bass drum made out of cardboard box, Tommy thwacking the Vibraslap or playing coconuts, the high tambourine on “Silver Rays” or the blissful powerhouse chant that drives “Default”, the root of this (incorrectly labelled) “indie guitar rock” band begins squarely with the beat and the vibe.
So, Django Django is always a party and always a dance. You sit with them after, sharing beers, drenched in your own sweat from boogieing under their bright lights, laughing while they yawn through the Day 1 of Tour jetlag. And you remind them of all the places you’ve seen them in the world, and you know right then that you’ll keep seeing them in the world, wherever they’ll have you. \m/
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