Shepherds Bush Empire, London, December 21
As the Mayan calendar ticks down its final seconds towards a disappointing non-pocalypse, four young spods in Shepherds Bush unveil a complex, indecipherable replacement. It’s written in mathematical symbols on their matching shirts and scrawled in mysterious markings across the screens they’ve fashioned out of window blinds. You’d be buggered trying to find your birthday in it, but its soundtrack of ’50s rock’n’roll, ’60s psych drones, ’70s glam, ’80s funk, ’90s glitchtronica and ’00s Afropop will make the next 10,000 or so years one hell of a party.
This is, after all, Django Unhinged. To a relentless, hand-clappy future-disco beat that makes the crowd throw themselves at their mates like horny salmon, the Edinburgh trio rejuvenate all manner of classic styles from Caribbean surf pop (‘Hail Bop’) to ’50s skiffle (‘Storm’) and Latino limbo (‘Love’s Dart’) with math-pop abandon, all sung by Vincent Neff in the style of The Beta Band. Often they’ll throw three or four genres at the same tune. ‘Firewater’ sounds like early Kinks having a premonition of T Rex. ‘Skies Over Cairo’ smashes Arabian bazaar vibes into Afrobeat percussion and trancey synths, and has the audacity to take the resulting noise for a twist around the nearest ’50s high-school hop.
Django Django are the most adventurous band around today. In an age when, at one end of the spectrum, Jake Bugg and Alabama Shakes are scurrying back to antiquated blues and skiffle and, at the other, Grimes and Metronomy are striving forward by making records that sound like someone felching the Knight Rider car, Django are the perfect amalgam. They occupy the same middle ground as Tame Impala, but where TI manhandle ’70s prog and psych into hallucinogenic new shapes, Django Django do the same with the entire rock’n’roll era. When ‘Default’ starts off with the sound of a windy day on Jupiter, delves into White Stripes blues guitar and then turns into 25th-century Buddy Holly you start to wonder if there are any limits to their vision.
They affect the art-school aesthetic of east London basements – there’s not a top shirt-button undone in the moshpit – but when the bongos and woodblocks come out for ‘Life’s A Beach’ and the cowboy rave of ‘WOR’ picks up, there’s no denying the party band beneath. We’ve been Django’d.