This was a topsy-turvy gig.
Babyfaced headliners The Clik Clik were the only signed act playing; Dan Black, wallowing in the bill’s middle, is enticing A&R types; but it’s openers Milke that actual people have turned up early to see.
Pity them, then, as we discover the opening of the doors is delayed by an hour as Black’s soundcheck runs late.
Finally the incredibly slow-moving queue files politely in and is still getting past the door staff when Andrew “Friendly” Kornweibel’s four-piece fires up.
This feelgood, pop-centric electro act is a tightly drilled operation. DJ and label boss Kornweibel’s synths and vocoder dominate the six songs presented here, while vocalist Ra, sporting a blond rinse and a buttoned-up shirt, also plays guitar. A rock solid rhythm section ices what is an intriguing set and quite a prospect.
There’s much to dance to and admire as two human lightstands throw grid beams and words across the red-and-pink clad band, inventively accessorising the Hoxton Bar + Kitchen’s tiny stage.
Milke’s material goes beyond obvious song structures and makes itself room to breathe in the spaces between the bits dull indie-schmindie bands would call intro, verse, bridge and chorus. A synth arpeggio reminiscent of Candy Staton – recently half-inched by Friendly Fires – gets married to a decidedly naughties arrangement that spins Resignation sideways; elsewhere on single Maybe I’m Crazy, Ra’s power-ballad voice soars. The set’s slowest number, All Or Nothing At All, would comfortably fit into a Sam Sparro set.
This often euphoric, layered material tilts principally towards Korweibel’s DJ background. It’s no bad thing – not since Soulwax has there been such a fine tightrope balancing act between the two parallel dimensions of indie and dance and, while Milke sound nothing like the Belgian duo, their sensibility when it comes to mashing genres is right up their rue.
Oh. Somebody gave Zoolander a MacBook to play with.
Dan Black is the central figure of another four-piece, two of whom are using Macs. Another of their number is sporting the world’s dinkiest keytar; think melodica-sized. There’s also some drums, or at least the odd thwhack of a cymbal amongst the programmed electro-scrunches.
A refugee from The Servant, Black’s colourful outfit and reliance on computers most reminds of YACHT. He seems more concerned with OTT histrionics and their entertainment value than with taking himself or his A&R-heavy audience overtly seriously. Just as well, but a pity the music isn’t as frivolous.
He straps on a guitar and plays a couple of forlorn notes for a slow number, looking and sounding like a major label proposition. One for a Moshi Moshi night, maybe?
Somebody bearing rubbish sacks interrupts the 29 punters who’ve stayed for The Clik Clik. A barman clears glasses.
The whole evening’s running late, but it seems a little harsh on the Fulham duo and their rhythm section, whose perfectly presentable indie-pop could work variously as Jamie T in band form (two years too late) or as Deacon Blue for a new generation, depending on the direction they eventually go in.
Stefan’s baseball cap and John McEnroe locks contrast with Maya’s designed, sculpted look. As a singing duo they sometimes call to mind Aqua – but for good, fun, reasons.
The place is a quarter full at most. Maybe everybody was here for a spot of Zoolandia or for the night’s best act, Milke. Whatever; The Clik Clik deserved a bigger audience than they faced. Instead the headliners somehow became an afterthought.