Photo: Brendan Canty
If there was ever a night to dish out a “fair play” or two, tonight’s the night. As I stand I can count 9 people in the venue. On stage is local electro extraordinaire Eoghan Reid, who goes to work under the name Reid. From where I’m standing the seated audience doesn’t seem to bother Reid much as he may as well be playing to 9,000 people. I wouldn’t be surprised if brick dust started falling from the ceiling as the tables shake with vibration. The live mix is loud as hell but I’m sure all 9 of us would agree we wouldn’t have it any other way. Suddenly the 9 has evolved to 12 as three non natives take a seat beside me. Reid is laying it all on up on the stage – electro-house, funky house, elements of techno, you name it. The production level, much like tonight’s head-liners (more later), is very high end. It’s not just production though as Reid has more than enough in tonight’s set to make him stand out. The arrangements are clever, the songs are jam packed with ideas, at times too many. After several minutes my new neighbours decide to leave the seats and take to the dance-floor. They haven’t bought a drink nor do they look like they’ve spent the day on it. The girls make for good eye candy with some seriously seductive shapes while their spectacled friend looks like he’s about to have a stroke. If we could just fast forward +2 hours and have Reid play to that crowd I think we could all appreciate his efforts that bit more.
You can hear the hiss from the sampled records when the kick drum goes for a smoke. When it returns it still seems intent on pulling the whole building down. I’m always fascinated by the approach to live shows with this genre. On stage, Reid for the most part uses a Novation Launchpad to curate his set. Here and there he turns to effect pedals for extra ooomph or filter build ups. The Launchpad looks like a digital chessboard, if you replaced the black and white square with a multitude of colours. Each one is a command that triggers a sample, repeats a sample, introduces a new sample, mutes a sample, so on so forth. On stage he gets lost in the colour spectrum. Picking and punching buttons like some sort of futuristic Michaelangelo. A bit of green here, a bit of red there. Everything works, giving you an indication that this isn’t some knob dwindling DJ Fas Course wannabe. This guy knows exactly what he’s doing.
Speaking to Reid in the smoking area after his set I ask him about the device. He explains to me how it works and goes as far as to mention “yeah man, there was something I did there tonight that I must do the whole time. I just did it by accident.” Hopefully he can remember what button he pushed. Reid also informs me that he had a track issued by the incredible Kitsuné label in France. Both shocked and delighted for him I reply with a “fair play”. A recent set at Forbidden Fruit, and upcoming dates at Body & Soul, Castlepalooza and Indiependence, will do wonders for Reid. It’s perfect dance tent material, the sound of now delivered by a very talented and focussed individual.
Following Reid is tonight’s head-liners, the mighty Dublin duo Last Days of 1984. Darren Moloney and Brian Rice have caused quite a stir since the release of their début LP Wake up to the Waves. My first introduction to LDO1984 came through Conor here at WeAreNoise. Much like Reid, the production values really caught me off-guard. There are a lot of great Irish bands doing their best to make their recordings sound big but yet most fall short. Studio budgets, lack of experienced engineers and reference points are normally to blame. Not the case with LDO1984. The record sounds huge, the tracks have plenty of space, the vocals are rich and warm and most importantly they’ve got that five letter plural beginning with S too – songs.
By the time they take the stage business has picked up inside the four walls of The Pavilion. Bodies are scattered all around the venue as we are treated to set-opener ‘Rivers Edge’. The offbeat bass strut sets the groove in the key of C while the prismatic chord progression bounces around the root note. The vocal melody sounding like it was lifted straight from an Animal Collective Merriweather Post Pavilion session. Not a bad thing, let me assure you.
Album opener ‘Francois Truffaut-Event Sociologique’ follows, sounding a hell of a lot more intense live than its recorded version. The twisted lead sections jumping out of the live mix like razor sharp knives, intent on destroying every ear drum in sight. The latter half of the band name is all too relevant with the FM style synth pads, while the percussion-heavy rhythm happily keeps them out of kick-snare-kick-snare territory. One of the many things Moloney and Rice are tuned into is creative rhythm. Where that influence originates from is anyone’s guess but it does remind me of how Chris Lowe (Pet Shop Boys) liked to do the same. In doing so the melody is left to explore without restriction, a real trait of LDO1984. I wonder if one might have doubled as a drummer in a previous outing or if they’re just that good.
‘Woods’ is up next with it’s Moog-esque arpeggios swirling through the speakers. Here LDO1984 prove they could be just as relevant as the artists like Future Cop or Kavinsky when revisiting the peak of 80′s electronica. The song climaxes into one of their rare 4/4 grooves with a chorus refrain that I haven’t shaken since, “I know you’re thinking of words you could say“.
Just when you think things couldn’t get any better, Moloney whips out a ukulele for a fabulous rendition of ‘Wave Life’. A young man to the right of me fist pumps the air in celebration and although one half of my brain is processing a conga rhythm, the other complementing the Duran Duran style twin vocal, I can still hear the ukulele through all the madness. On the other side of the stage, Rice is in surf guitar city, sliding up and down the neck of the Jag in tandem with the rhythm. His body, spasm like, jolting back and forth, caught in a tropicalia whirlwind not too distant from the tropical hurricane of 1984 and the last days of Marvin Gaye.
Closing the set tonight the duo opt for the relaxed vibes of ‘Safari’. One of the best vocal melodies on their début, it only gets better with the splendid harmonies contributed by Rice. On this track the stomping rhythms are pushed aside, so too are the buzzing synthesizers. Instead the duo sound more like the The Everly Brothers’ desert island sessions than two young kids from Dublin with more buttons than Forty Coats.
Last Days of 1984 are one hell of a band both on-stage and on record. As I mentioned above in reference to Reid, a lot of this stuff isn’t easy to pull off live. The lack of a drummer doesn’t cause any problems and if I’m being honest isn’t even missed in their case. There is enough going on on-stage to command your attention. The use of a floor tom drum and the introduction of the ukulele brings a nice element of realness to the all round product. The live keys and live triggers are also more than notable. Certain parts of songs in particular come off better live than on record. As a whole, the live show is very energetic and I would imagine instantly gratifying if stumbled upon at a festival. Fans of Passion Pit, Gypsy & The Cat, Com Truise, College, etc…will love these guys and if the glowing response to them over the last few months is anything to go by these are far from their last days.