Translating electronica to a live set is never easy.
Watching people stand behind a set of decks fiddling with an array of knobs and gadgetry can be about as interesting as watching paint dry.
Hot Chip get around this problem with larger than life sartorial statement; The Chemical Brothers by letting huge tunes carry the audience through. But for every good live electronic act, there are hundreds that fall flat on their faces.
Slagsmålsklubben tackle this problem by dressing and behaving like a bunch of kids with ADHD who were dressed by their parents, in the early ’80s. Their style matches their frenetic, ebullient brand of electronica played out on a bank of analogue synthesisers, which are probably older than the band or audience.
The Swedish six-piece, although essentially standing in line and nodding their heads, manage to entertain with outbursts of hyperactivity and brilliant tracks. The real shame is that as they are on at the start of the evening. The sparse crowd take to the band, but the lack of numbers dampens an otherwise ecstatic atmosphere. Later on the bill, in a smaller venue or one better suited to dance music, and these boys would put on a blinder of a set. Here the shortcomings are certainly not due to their lack of effort, commitment or tunes.
Video Nasties for some reason take to the stage with stockings pulled over their heads. Perhaps this bank-heist chic is so that no-one recognises them and their families aren’t embarrassed by their loathsomely pedestrian, plodding indie set.
Following on from a mixed bag of support it is up to Late Of The Pier to save the night. Their atmospheric brand of electronica is pleasing enough on record, but live they ditch synthesisers in favour of guitars. Given the hype whipped up about this Castle Donington four-piece, it is a gamble to play with people’s expectations so early in their career.
Sadly it’s one that doesn’t pay off. Far more in the vein of Video Nasties than that of Slagsmålsklubben, songs that are atmospheric, disturbing, or brutal on record become ironically lifeless live.
Strangely, given the problems of performing electronica, it is the act that hang on to their synthesisers that pull out the best set of the evening, leaving the rest of the night in the hands of two very underwhelming live acts.