Knobs were constantly being twiddled, filters tweaked and cords shoved into patch bays as Jameses Ford and Shaw circled around a large pile of equipment in the middle of Studio B’s stage. I’m not exactly sure what they were doing up there, or how they could see anything with those very cool light towers flashing frenetically. Sunglasses help in such cases.
While Simian Mobile Disco have DJ’d here plenty over the last three years, this was the NYC debut of the duo’s live show as a band. Their debut, Attack Decay Sustain Release, is due out on these shores later this summer and it’s a whole lot of fun — serious dance music with serious pop sensibilities. Guest vocalists like former Clor frontman Barry Dobbin and The Go Team’s Ninja enliven the record, though it would probably still be fun to listen to as instrumental.
There were no vocalists on stage at Studio B, just James and James furiously doing things to their equipment while occasionally trying to pump up the crowd. It kind of reminded of the prom scene in Pretty in Pink, the two guys on stage behind a bank of equipment sort of pretending to be OMD. You could tell the crowd was psyched and ready to be taken over the edge… but apart from a couple moments, it didn’t really happen. It’s unfair to keep comparing everyone to Soulwax, but seeing both groups who do similar things on record play live at the same venue, it’s hard not to. Simian Mobile Disco had the keys to the Porche and the prom queen in the passenger seat but couldn’t manage to get it out of the driveway. No amount of hand gyrations substitute for the connection a real band make with an audience.
But it was by no means a bad show, just not a stellar one. Their lightshow was killer. Eight columns of highly manipulatable flash and flare somewhat made up for the less-than-exciting showmanship. Plus the "dancing guy" from the Fujiya & Miyagi show was there, which made inched things a little closer towards awesome. And I do recommend Attack Decay Sustain Release to anyone. But if you’re debating between seeing them or something else that’s going on, you might want to weigh your options carefully.
MP3: Simian Mobile Disco – Love
(featuring Barry Dobbin)
And here’s a little video I shot to give you an idea of what they’re like: