Dutch Uncles @ The Wardrobe, 3/3/17
Going to a Dutch Uncles gig is like admiring a piece of concept art. No one quite understands it – but that’s ok.
The whole evening it felt as if the band were teetering on the edge of their performance, as if the music could escape from their hands at any moment. At one point they even had to start again. ‘FUUUUUUUCCCCKKK’ yelled Duncan, excusing his missed entry by saying ‘that’s Friday night guys’.
Blatant mistakes in live performance seem so rare these days that the fact that it could go wrong made the whole experience more exciting. As sadistic as that sounds, it was this uncertainty that was key to the energy. Encouraging the audience on was lead singer Duncan Wallis. This man has always had, and hopefully always will have, very unusual dance moves. Whipping and swinging the microphone wire, he created sharp angles with his elbows and hopped around while his expressive face and animated falsetto voice emitted the surreal lyrics that are so intrinsic to the band’s style.
Despite this showboating, the band emanated a feeling of camaraderie and although Wallis did most of the talking, inciting the crowd with his sardonic and self-deprecating wit, when the whole band played there was a tangible sense that each member was equally important, unlike other bands like The 1975, who pose more as Matt Healy and friends. This comradeship made their already exciting performance even better, adding an extra layer to a stage that was rhythmically erratic, sonically charged and jammed with marimba duets galore.
Tracks from Out of Touch in the Wild and their most recent album Big Balloon seemed to go down the best with the bizarre demographic at The Wardrobe. However there was a noticeable lull in ‘Tidal Wave’ and Wallis later conceded that the set felt one song too long. My advice is that that one takes the chop. The rest were splendid.