Going to see electronic things live is boring, because they just press play on a laptop and there are flashing lights and you just kind of dance and act like you’re at a normal club where they’re playing music by a thing you like. That’s exactly what Caribou is like. It’s just Dan Snaith wearing a pair of glasses and kind of bopping in the way that the vaguely uncool guys who make electronic music do.
Or wait, no. By virtue of the fact that Caribou used to be a weird psychedelic thing with a lot of guitars, or maybe for some reason completely separate to that, they are an incredibly good live band, more in line with the live driving rhythms of someone like Holy Fuck than the programmed crew. Though I was not being serious about that either.
This is the third time I’ve seen Caribou in 2010, so there aren’t a lot of new things to think. The first time was on Governor’s Island and it was “hard to think of a more perfect gig”. The second time was at Electric Picnic, late, in the Body and Soul, which was hazy. This was the first time indoors.
It’s a band who don’t seem all that concerned about looking cool, for various reasons. They’re too busy wearing a yellow winter coat in a warm enclosed space, being a member of a Touch and Go band as a fulltime job, playing complex drum patterns as well as a quantized drum sequencer would and probably thinking about calculus, respectively. They go in a few different directions. They can build it up and touch on rocking out territory. They can strip it back into breakdown that’s almost minimal.
Mostly they stay somewhere in the middle, with Snaith triggering those lush synth progressions while he alternates between singing, playing guitar, playing the colour synth and, most excitingly, sitting down at the drums across from Brad Weber, egging each other on with their play. This isn’t Jonny Greenwood and Ed O’Brien picking up mallets to go boom boom click boom boom. Both of these dudes are endorsed drummers. And when one of them is touring the toms while the other one’s accenting out rhythms on a hi-hat, that’s a pretty impressive sight.
Bowls, with its vaguely atonal sample of a Xiu Xiu-esque singing bowl (presumably), was on of the in-set highlights, hypnotic as hell, flipping from speaker to speaker and allowing bass and rhythm to sneak up. It’s a banger. And then, to close the set, Odessa, and the guy pulling off his shirt and waving it around his head. Dan Snaith still thinking about calculus.
Coming back out for the encore, it seemed like one of those moments where you actually believe Dublin is a great place for touring bands to play, Snaith saying “you guys are awesome” to a sold-out Button Factory (the gig originally having been booked for Crawdaddy, in a fit of insanity by someone). It was Sun, obviously. And then, at the end, still thinking about calculus, shaking hands with the front row, he’s pulled out and crowdsurfed around for about thirty seconds, the roof long torn off the place.