Django Django – Tickets – 9:30 Club – Washington, DC – March 9th, 2013

Django Django

Late Show

Django Django

Night Moves

Sat 3/9/13

10:00 pm

Django Django - (Set time: 11:30 PM)
Django Django
It's not for anyone else to decide what other young men and women should get up to in the sanctity of their own bedrooms. That said, it's heartening to know that not everyone using the term "bedroom band" is a lazy person making bad excuses for a tossed off record.

For the last three years, Django Django have been busy doing great things in the East London bedroom slept in by their drummer, producer and de facto leader David Maclean. The result of those great things is a great self-titled debut record.

"Time gives you options, and we had plenty of that," says Vincent Neff, the singer and guitarist who – along with bassist Jimmy Dixon and synth operator Tommy Grace – completes Django Django.

"There was no pressure on us from anyone to go away with a producer and come back two weeks later with an album," explains Maclean. "Maybe next time there will be some svengali figure banging his fists on a desk demanding hits, but we've had the luxury to figure out what we wanted to do and how we wanted to do it.”

The quartet, who met at art school in Edinburgh, first came to peoples' attentions after a gradual migration to London a couple of years back. 2009’s double A-side single "Storm"/"Love's Dart" laid the blueprint for a confident, adventurous and psychedelically-bruised strain of art-rock that melds intangible electronic flourishes to the visceral rub of live instrumentation.

The time since has been spent holed away, expanding upon that blueprint, seeing where they can push it. The impression one gets of Django Django is of a band laying down the first, meticulously measured borders on some vast map of a world that only they are privy to.

Correspondent to that, each track is like its own nation of harmonies, rhythms and textures. "We didn't put much conscious thought into making it sound like an album – we thought we'd let any similarities between the songs come out by themselves," explains Tommy.

What that means in practice is the swooning, bucolic Beach Boy-isms of opening track "Hail Bop" and the sterner, questing Bo Diddley beat guitars of "Life's A Beach". The industrious, go-getting tattoo verses of "Firewater" and the sleepy cowboy sighs of "Silver Rays". "Default" and "Waveforms" are future singles. The former sounds like an uprising in a Mexican gun factory. "Music's so mad and widespread and varied, that eclecticism's the only way to be for us,” reasons Maclean. “That said, I think you can draw a line through all the music we’re into. It’s about creativity and experimentation and the quest to find a new sound.”

Amid all the diverse moods and ideas of Django Django (all there, perhaps, as the imagination wanders to stave off bedroom boredom?) it’s a lyric from “Silver Rays” that most capably sums up its parent album. “We venture out into the great uncharted,” sings Neff, “go far away from any beaten track… Enjoy it now before it’s far departed, you know that once it’s gone that there’ll be no way back.” The lyrics can be read as a desire to explore first, and a tribute to what Dixon calls their decision to “stick to their guns” when outside forces tried to convince them to forget everything they’d seen. "A lot of people expected us to ditch our recordings and start all over again, but that was never something we wanted to do. It's great to have a body of work – something you can point to, and say this is the story so far.” If that’s true, then Django Django’s story looks set to be a long and compelling one. By banging together their thirst for adventure and their exacting high standards, they’ve produced an album that seems to have everything, but on which everything never seems too much.

Time to get out of the bedroom now, and let playtime begin.
Night Moves - (Set time: 10:30 PM)
Night Moves
For such a patently American locale, the Twin Cities have lacked a remarkable group that evokes the American rock canon in a classic manner for a long time. Enter Night Moves. Formed in 2009 by guitarist and vocalist John Pelant, bassist Micky Alfano and multi-instrumentalist Mark Ritsema, Night Moves is a distinctly original concoction. Their honey-dipped sound seethes with a kind of down-home tenderness - and like the best glittering music - the arrangements are colossal in shape. Night Moves’ powerful debut Colored Emotions is this Minneapolis group’s first album.

The three core members of Night Moves first met at Southwest High School in Minneapolis. Following the tangential fits and starts typical of early music projects (including a detour to college and back), the ensemble took definite shape as Night Moves and is the crowning achievement to the long-standing collaboration between John Pelant and Mark Ritsema, who first met as freshman.

Pelant’s taste for Dylan, Blind Lemon Jefferson, et. al, would prove most propitious for their future work together in Night Moves. Ritsema describes himself as being into electronic music at the time – a Daft Punk fan – when he met budding folknik Pelant. Pelant throughout high school would write some solo material but hadn’t been keen on sharing. Whatever musical differences there were between them faded as the motivation to play music together persisted over the next years.

In 2009, with the group at last solidified with the addition of bassist Micky Alfano, Night Moves began the long, astounding odyssey that was recording their meticulous debut album Colored Emotions. Nearly two years in the making, the debut exudes the craft and professionalism of a seasoned band. It was these painstakingly self-recorded tracks Night Moves prepared themselves that attracted interest from Domino, further developed with the appointment of studio guru Thom Monahan to take the album and set it free, so to speak.

Monahan’s easy-going nature was a relief for this perfectionist ensemble, who had already made something wholly precious in private. According to Pelant, Monahan’s mountainous pedigree of producing terrific psychedelic pop and freak-folk outfits immediately eased their mind: Vetiver, Devendra Banhart, Beachwood Sparks… Night Moves were indeed in good company, and so they hauled down to Los Angeles to put the final touches on Colored Emotions.

Pelant’s tone-perfect vocals on Colored Emotions serves Night Moves not just as its lyrical core but also its glittering adornment. With an extensive vocal range, his voice ventures where lone guitar solos cannot. Hence, there’s no cornball guitar hero antics in Night Moves. Instead, they carefully built their songs around strong acoustic and rhythmic grounds, the clarity of crystal-clear production, and Pelant’s deft howl. The reverb of hollow-body guitars, the bright wash of crash cymbals, the haze of harmonica and organ tremolo – this is the album’s bedrock and it shines like gold.

And just as The Zombies’ classic Odyssey and Oracle has surprising melodic twists and shape-shifting choruses but never beats you over the head with them, the epic arrangements throughout Colored Emotions are sophisticated but not overbearing. Standouts “Headlights” and “Country Queen” are both perfect examples: seamless segues and hook-laden bridges defy conventional song structures, yet remain altogether memorable.

The songs of Night Moves conjure a spiritual energy only twenty-somethings dislodged by adversity and isolation could produce. An album like Colored Emotions seems intent to turn inward to create a joyous universe within its own boundaries. Certainly, the group’s musical abilities are innate without ever being too self-conscious about it. It’s as if Colored Emotions came second nature to them and the arrival of the rest of us took them by surprise.

—by Anthony Atlas
Venue Information:
9:30 Club
815 V St. NW
Washington, DC, 20001
http://930.com