Friday, 1 November 2013

MUSIC: Clean Bandit @ Digital – 27th October 2013

This weekend I found myself as the happy recipient of a last minute ticket for a band that I’d heard a whisper of but didn’t know nearly well enough to know what a live show would be like. I usually like to know a brief history and at least half of a bands’ back catalogue to not only inform myself on who exactly I’m watching, but also to know what songs I can afford to miss when my Red Stripe runs empty.

Clean Bandit were a band introduced to me by my housemate, and for the first time in a long time I find myself faced with a conundrum – they’re an act so obscure that I have no point of reference to recommend them.

Usually it’s relatively easily to conjure at least a vague image of what to expect by comparing what two bands would have birthed said artist had they copulated – for example London Grammar could easily be the result of an unprotected fumble between The Eurythmics and The xx. However with Cambridge-born Clean Bandit, there are not so much two parents but more a rich back history of cross-breeding more commonly seen in mongrels than in musicians. You wouldn’t think that electric pop, hints of garage and classic strings would work well if all sloshed together, but somehow Clean Bandit manage it.

With a reputation almost as underground as the leaky seafront venue, I was surprised not only to see a full house but also a support act that actually held my attention rather than encouraging me to slope off the smoking area where my housemate is bargaining a roll up from an eighteen year old. Mausi, a London-based electro-pop outfit, churn out tunes that are irritatingly catchy and impossible not to dance to. Their energy apparently knows no bounds, and a post-performance investigation on SoundCloud proves that this positivity isn’t just limited to live shows; you can hear more of their material here.

After a brief break and a fifteen year old fan faceplanting the floor, Clean Bandit ascend the stage with barely an introduction and immediately throw themselves into the show. The band holds no bars during their performance, combining an almost endless list of influences in a genre broadly coined as “folktronica”. Clean Bandit perform with the passion and timing that you’d expect from a band that have been doing this for years, let alone from a fresh-faced group that look as if they could have just left their first practise session in a garage in Greenwich after handing in their dissertation.

I find it surprising that NME damply rated their 2013 single Dust Clears as a song that “gently requests that you shuffle on the dance floor for 10 seconds or so rather than demand you hit up an all-night rave”. Whilst admittedly I find their recorded releases a little lacklustre when compared to their live set, the less-than-enthusiastic reception wasn’t entirely deserved.

Several singles are available through Spotify which I would recommend to those who have a healthy set of bass amplifying headphones and an active imagination. A favourite track from the set could possibly be “Wildfire”, a song with a beat that vibrates the gyrating crowd and doesn’t seem at all out of place at Digital, a dance den that hosted Disclosure only months before.

As this was the closing night of their recent tour, those looking to witness Clean Bandit at their genre-bending best may have a worthwhile wait ahead to see them at their best.


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