When I heard Gang Gang Dance were to grace us with their presence at Cargo this Wednesday I let out a high-pitched puppy like yelp. I apologise to my fellow passengers on the 29 bus but I’ve been waiting quite a while for this one. You see, Gang Gang Dance are responsible for one of my albums of the century, God’s Money, a musical offering so brilliant that within 5 minutes of listening I was ready to have their faces tattooed on my forehead. If you’re lucky enough to receive a copy, grab on and never let go.
Hailing from Brooklyn and working up quite a buzz in their hometown over the past few years, they’ve garnered a loyal following all the while remaining reassuringly underground. Commercial they aren’t and whilst to some it may just be a lot of indecipherable noise to others it all makes perfect aural sense. The crowd at Cargo seems to agree with the latter. So, after being entertained/confused by the one-man variety show that is the bespectacled Dan Deacon we were all sufficiently weirded out and ready to accept whatever came next.
The four-piece took to the stage, a quick hello from lead singer Liz Bougatsos (sporting an oversized Ghostface Killah t-shirt) and we’re off. Describing their sound isn’t easy, neo-tribal is thrown around rather a lot and to a certain extent it’s accurate. Firstly they aren’t particularly fond of ‘tracks’ in the traditional sense. Their set contained just 3 pauses, purely to give the group (and the audience) a chance to breath. Their music is very much a continual flow, with changes in pace throughout-hinting at drum n’ bass one minute and post punk noise the next, In essence it’s all a bit freeform. Vocals are of the primal variety, Liz’s voice as much an instrument as anything else, howling (but never screaming) admittedly I couldn’t make out a word but this was never going to be a good old sing along. However, above all it’s percussion that’s at the core of their sound, specifically heavy rhythmic drumbeats driving the music forward and dictating changes in speed and mood to great effect.
As you’d expect this works a treat live and prompted much head nodding and involuntary trance like swaying. The crowd couldn’t get enough, clapping and cheering for more once they finally left the stage. Return they did. However this was far from your normal encore. Guitarist Josh Diamond proceeded to offer the front row a variety of different instruments and suddenly we had a whole new line-up. Drums, vocals and guitar were now in the hands of the sweaty enthusiastic volunteers and with Liz at the helm they did a surprisingly good job. It was a nice touch, making the point that this wasn’t about being a pretentious ‘art-noise collective’ to name check at parties but just a group of people who enjoy experimenting with sound. Their skill isn’t so much in their obvious musical ability as their determination to try something new. Pretty simple really but it works an absolute treat.
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