Live Music + Gig Reviews

Caribou @ KOKO, London

8 October 2014

Caribou Dan Snaith went on a two year touring binge after producing his last album, Swim. Despite it being his fifth record, a mere smattering of people were aware of his music before its release. The album changed that – it was groundbreaking, effortlessly piecing together elements of funk, dance and psychedelia. While touring with a full band under the name of Caribou, Snaith somehow found time to simultaneously play under his more techno-oriented guise, Daphini. But recently, Snaith has abandoned his side projects to concentrate on mastering Caribou’s euphoric new sound.

With Caribou releasing new album Our Love the day before tonight’s show, there seemed to be no better venue to give the new material its full-blown debut. KOKO welcomed Caribou’s return, a massive mirrorball hung from the ceiling, turning gently in the light, catching the coruscating backdrop of red-licked walls and golden chandeliers.

Instead of spending time getting psyched backstage, Snaith set up his own equipment in front of the crowd. Shortly after, the sound system fired out Our Love, the flagship track off the new record. Its clean synths and vocal samples sound akin to Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs and The 2 Bears. As soon as the first bass line arrived, the crowd made themselves heard. Barely one track had been played, and the concert already felt much more like an upbeat Saturday night than a drizzly Wednesday.

Most of the songs performed tonight were from Our Love, an album full of subtle, streamlined vocals and warm synth melodies that sound as if they were played under water. Though the new tracks generally impressed, there were a couple that stood out in a bad way. One of those tracks was Second Chance, featuring Hyperdub’s Jessy Lanza. Although the singer’s breathy vocals sounded great in her supporting set, it brought down the energy of the show a little. Some of the tracks off the new album focus more on the vocal verses than Caribou’s past work. Often, it works and shows evolution, but sometimes it can hinder them.

But that minor dud didn’t stop Caribou raising the bar. The shiver of Back Home, borrowing chords from Jai Paul’s shaky funk hit Jasmine, proved to be a highlight. Mars, an instrumental filler off the new record, was made more interesting when performed live, thanks to added vocal samples that sounded like someone screaming “baking soda” continuously.

Tinges of afrobeat guitar crept in during Bowls before the band burst into Odessa, from Swim. The rip of the bassline sounded even more funky live than on record, and, with added tambourines and animal noises, it sounded slightly more out of control. But it was not the added percussion and effects that made the performance of Odessa particularly stand out – it was a recorder solo. And Snaith managed to make it cool again.

Slow burner Your Love Will Set You Free featured some amazing harmonising, along with an extended synth solo. Later on in the set, the band played an extended version Can’t Do Without You, a track that, on its own, isn’t particularly groundbreaking, but when played in the context of the new album, it sounds phenomenal.

Finishing with an extended version of old favourite Sun, Snaith and percussionist Brad Weber harmonised in a way that sounded spiritual. You couldn’t ask for a stronger ending to the show; if tonight’s performance was anything to go by, Caribou’s upcoming 2015 tour is bound to be unmissable.

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More on Caribou
Caribou – Suddenly
Caribou @ KOKO, London
Caribou – Our Love
musicOMH’s Top 50 Albums Of 2010: 4 – Caribou – Swim
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