Insurrectionary Neo Futurist Adventures…
The live event circuit has been boosted of late by the regular DEFSynth events. Hosted by the larger than life character of Derek Anthony Williams, the DEFSynth nights are launched under the tagline of “The New Wave of Waveform” and make an effort to combine an eclectic combination of bands and artists as a solid foundation for an electronic music evening.
There’s a rawness to the DEFSynth nights that mark them out from many of the other multi-artist events that pepper the electronic music calendar. You’re never quite sure what any night is going to bring, but the selection is always intriguing (and certainly never dull). Tonight the intimate environs of Whitechapel’s Urban Bar are also graced by many figures from the UK’s grassroots electronic music scene. Consequently, the evening offers up a mingling of talents that includes the likes of LegPuppy, Dicepeople, Shelter and Autorotation among others. Tonight they’re taking a break from the stage themselves, but offer up an enthusiastic audience for the DEFSynth acts to follow.
Punkdisco have graced the stage for DEFSynth events in times past, where Leah’s on-stage presence has radiated a nonchalant, laid-back style. Boasting punk-tinged tunes with an attitude, the boy/girl duo offer up the squelchy delights of ‘I Can Dance’ and the frenetic rhythms of ‘All The Things’ as part of their set.
There’s a heavier impact for the tunes that accompany 3D on stage. Consisting of the charismatic Thomas Kelly on vocals and the accomplished synth skills of Dean Clarke (Brutalist Architecture in the Sun, Bluetown Electronica), 3D waste little time in getting the audience in the mood.
Kelly commands the stage through a strident presence and manages to spice up proceedings by ejecting the mic stand across the floor! Stripping off to reveal a hazard-taped body somehow adds to the unpredictable ambience.
Tonight sees the debut of new 3D song (and new single) ‘Alien Expression’. Here, a bass-heavy number is given some contrast with intermittent bright synth riffs. But there’s a percussive strength to much of 3D’s catalogue of tunes, including the menacing tones of ‘I Wanna Riot’. The outcome is that 3D manage to leave an indelible impression on the DEFSynth audience.
Meanwhile, the dancepop delights of Sheffield’s own Voi Vang are framed by her expressive and energetic on-stage choreography. The in-your-face rhythms of ‘Cards’ and ‘Streets Of Gold’ are balanced up with the more wistful tones of ‘Mirror’.
It’s clear that solo star Voi Vang and her self-styled “Experimental Aphotic Pop” have made an impression in recent months (including a legendary live outing at Silicon Dreams last year) and suggests a bright future for this emerging talent.
The evening’s host, Derek Anthony Williams himself, takes to the stage as part of Jan Doyle Band (serving as the in-house band for the DEFSynth events). Unsurprisingly, Williams cuts a striking figure on stage with his punk hair and facepaint, while Michael Stokes fires up the synths. Jan Doyle Band manage to combine a number of distinct influences, from synthpop through to goth and industrial, while Williams recognises no boundary between stage and audience as he cuts shapes to the tunes. The result is as much performance art as it is music performance and, again, the crowd are fully engaged in this electronic theatre.
Joining Jan Doyle Band at the halfway point is the accomplished guitar licks of Valkyrie (who also performs guitar duties for the likes of Lene Lovitch among others). It’s a powerful combination that presents a dynamic set – one that tails out with the unusual (yet effective) cover choice of Toyah’s ‘I Want To Be Free’.
As well as live music, the night is rounded off with some shrewd DJ tunes (including the likes of TR/ST, Lady Gaga, Grimes and Poppy) that keeps things moving – and which also coincides with Voi Vang’s birthday. It provides a suitable ending to a fine Saturday night’s entertainment. At the same time, tonight serves as a demonstration that the DEFSynth events offer up a music calendar fixture that doesn’t disappoint.
DEFSynth return on 4th May with Meganoke (UK debut) along with Cult With No Name, Cyberwaste and Jan Doyle Band. More details: https://www.facebook.com/events/2173549989546143/
All photos by Paul Browne.
Publications that have featured his contributions include Electronic Sound, Metro, Japan Update Weekly, J-Pop Go, Wavegirl and OMD Messages.