The first time I saw British psychtronica rock band Django Django, it was a happy accident. It was Bonnaroo 2013, and my friend and I had wandered to “That Tent” to get a good spot for Father John Misty. We approached the stage as the band burst into their disgustingly infectious giant of a single “Default,” off their 2012 self-titled LP. The world within the tent was rent apart. The crowd was a tidal wave of elation, waving flags, dancing with strangers, picking up smaller festivalgoers so they could have a better view, undulating as a single ecstatic entity. I had never been in such a simultaneously high-energy and good-natured audience. The final chord vibrated into oblivion and the roar within the tent felt more like a collective purr, acknowledging the utter perfection of the set. This band clearly had a unique and powerful energy—one that connects with a sense of presence, positivity, and attention.
I came to see Django Django at Webster Hall** armed with a broader knowledge of their repertoire and gestalt. Having extensively indulged in the sonic scrumptiousness of their self-titled masterpiece, I had long since abandoned the idea that this band was more fun than substance. Django Django creates cohesive narratives of sound that stay tight while complementing their irreverence. Their show at Webster provided an entertaining lens through which to examine their whimsical complexity. Django Django deploys a bevvy of instruments, specifically percussion, to nuance and tweak their hallucinatory soundscapes. Like anyone in an elementary school music class or every good German child, they even had a glockenspiel! Everyone’s favorite instrument to attempt to pronounce. Their arrangements wound through dreamy and derivative and campy, yet maintained an astounding continuity. The show played more like one continuous arrangement than separate songs. This was only supplemented by the level of self-awareness regarding their zanier choices. The silly yet sexy “Skies Over Cairo” unleashed a deluge of emotional dissonance while sustaining the atmosphere of levity and whimsy. Some songs evoke Radiohead, some classic British acts like The Kinks, and sometimes the essence is even more difficult to identify. Spaghetti Western meets electro-trip? The psychedelic lighting and visuals only added to the layers of complexity surrounding the whole experience. Django Django is a band that can be intelligible in many different ways. One can take their live show as fun dance tracks with a wild light show, or consider the technical complexity, dizzying array of musical influences, and the masterful musicianship that keeps the group—and its show—tight yet relaxed. Either way, be prepared to sweat, dance, and, if you choose, do a whole lot of thinkin’.
**On Webster Hall.
This is a venue that always leaves me with a bad taste in my mouth. It’s like a piece of New Jersey plopped onto 11th Street. My specific bone to pick today (I will gloss over the $8 coat check fee because I’m the bigger person and I take the high road) has to do with water. Yes, H20. The blood of life. We all need the sweet refreshment of water to survive, and in these hot summer months we all find ourselves parched more often than usual. At a good venue, there will be jugs of water with cups so that thirsty, sweating patrons can replenish their fluids and not have a dehydration MDMA seizure on the ground during whatever WOMP WOMP is happening onstage. Water for everyone! It’s free and clean in New York! Hooray! Let’s say a venue decides to forgo the water jugs. A nice bartender will surely provide a cup of tap water, and the nice patron will tip the bartender because that’s what nice patrons do. However, at Webster Hall, they are determined to suck the money from your dry cracked lips as you lie shriveled and dying on their sticky floor. If there is one thing that the people at Webster Hall will not do, it is give you the free necessity of life that is water. No. You have to pay FIVE DOLLARS for a wasteful plastic bottle of water that is identical to that which you get in the tap. I asked nicely for tap water. I asked again. I even pulled the “I have an autoimmune disease and I feel faint” card. No dice my friends. It felt a bit eerie, as though a trembling, wide-eyed bartender were going to slide a grubby cocktail napkin towards me emblazoned with the scribbled message “they’re watching. Buy the bottled water.” Big brother is watching and he is in the pocket of the bottled water industry.
The good news is that you yourself can outsmart those capitalist consumer whores exploiting our love of music to sell their marked up water bottles. How can one continue to fight this neoliberal market where money is god and the fruits of the earth are commodities to be bought and sold, trafficking the gush of mother earth to leech money from apathetic millennials? Simply bring an empty canteen to the show. One is allowed to bring a bottle into the venue as long as it is empty. When your palate becomes dry, go to the downstairs restrooms where you will find sinks with separate hot and cold taps. Fill your water bottle, drink until you are sated, and engage in ritualistic genital shaming to adequately fight the man and smash the patriarchy. Enjoy the show everyone! Pummel the system with your bloodied fist, you know what to do.
Written by Sarah Finegold