Gig number four out of a string of twenty-five for Dan Le Sac (and friends) took place in the good old St. Mary’s end of Southampton on Sunday night at The Joiners. I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed the sounds that bounced into the half-filled venue; with three support acts the steep £9 entrance fee was more or less worth it for the crowd. Even the lost-looking drunk Saints fans who stumbled in didn’t question the entrance fee and stayed throughout…
The first thing I noticed about the gig (the second being the funky taste of the beer in my plastic pint tumbler – not sure why I never learn!) was the sheer amount of kit onstage – mostly electronic things I wouldn’t have a clue how to work. It was impressive and kicking off the night were Arp Attack, who as expected delivered a solid performance with frontwoman Frankie’s smouldering vocal melodies intermingling and complimenting Chris’s guitar and synths along with the mix of live drums and electronic drumpads from percussionist Kev. They’re edgy, they’re quirky and they bring forth electro pop at it’s best.
Next on was Sarah Williams White, or SWW who certainly looked the part with her large blue triangle earrings, spangly necklaces and Nike trainers. Although appearing slightly nervous at first: “I’ve been playing as a band for a while, so the gaps in between the songs are me thinking what the fuck am I doing?”, she needn’t have worried. Sarah played some quality tracks, with one hand on her synth and the other on her vocal loop pedal and electronic pads. Her set kept my interest throughout (I have a short attention-span), her style being alternative pop but with definite hip-hop and R&B vibes. She sang beautifully, her vocals ringing out clearly, but also somehow managed to beat-box occasionally in subtle tones. She had a dynamism in her songs that is hard to come by with ‘girls on synths’ who are now all too common (although I like Grimes). I’d hate to compare her to Katy B, but I imagine it’s what Katy B would sound like if she could actually sing. Her influences in fact come from the likes of PJ Harvey. She was fucking cool anyway.
On before Dan Le Sac was Merz, who’s combination of delicate echoing synths, and solid guitar playing (and “Dad dancing”, as Dan Le Sac told me) was brilliant. The drummer at one point used a squeaky dinosaur toy as a means of adding to their sound; if they hadn’t won me over already that certainly did. Lead singer Merz himself may not be a young musician, but he played experienced and intelligent music, and with vocals and lyrics that might even have made Thom Yorke jealous, with a hint of early U2. Banter with the Saints fans went down well “Are you in here to cheer yourselves up? I went to Portsmouth once, it was fantastic”.
It was finally Dan Le Sac’s turn – the Macbook was out and this shit just got serious. His satirical humour added nicely to his set (he wasn’t off-put by shouts of “Scroobius Pip!”), although it was his friends that really upped his performance, and in all honestly upstaged him. SWW and Merz came on and off stage, as well as Bennin Citizen, who delivered some awesome rapping and equally wicked dance moves. When an irritating dickhead asked “Mate, can you play something a little more upbeat?” Dan Le Sac’s response was “Yep, that’s where I wanted to get to in life. Don’t need a Mercury, or a Grammy. Just want to craft an album in two years and put together a carefully selected list of songs only for some person I’ve never met in my life to tell me to play ‘something a bit more upbeat.’ We’ll probably have a nice chat later I’m sure’”.
To be fair, the set did get more upbeat with heavier and more snappy drum and bass and SWW’s vocals sounding great. I’d hate to compare it to Pendulum… but it sounded a bit like Pendulum towards the end. Dan Le Sac sung a bit but he’s clearly in his element not doing that so much. His track ‘Memorial’ was a highlight, with his fingers working strange magic on his electronic equipment; this was again enhanced by SWW.