March 29th, 2012
An enthralled home-town crowd are packed into the Green Door Store to witness local boys Soccer96 release their self-titled new album into the wild.
On one level the band are easy to describe: there’s two of them, one on synths the other on drums. But the musical and avenues they travel are many and varied, where impassioned synth prog meets block-rocking beats and even a touch of shouty indie.
One thing’s for sure: they can kick it live. Hirsute keyboard wizard Dan Leavers stands behind his Juno rack, tosses out a buzzing, full-phat arpeggio then maybe does a little spin, a little whoop into the mic – a real showman this kid, working the crowd, impatient for a new life:
“I’ve been working too long in jobs that suck my soul right out of my body” he shouts over bleeping synths and clattering drums.
Man with the sticks Max Hallett ain’t got time for any of that showmanship. Fluorescent trucker cap tilted to a 45 degree angle, sweat pouring out from under the peak, he’s in the zone, in a state of flow, pounding out the breakbeats to match the pulsating rhythms set by Dr Roland, his analogue master.
It’s a show that grabs you, not least because of the site-specific video projections which slot into the shapes of the venue’s wall and ceiling. A ballerina delicately pirouettes over the exposed brick work, 8bit computer game visuals burn the retina, a tiger runs in an endless loop.
As the disparate images suggest, there’s a kind of schizophrenia to the band, which makes them veer between swaggering party choons and a more serious-minded sound that has echoes of M83’s earlier stuff. And, for my money, the po-faced is where it’s at.
The rising anxious pulse of SuperWarrior – with light beams and 2001 style ‘voyage to the edge of the universe’ visuals – I’ll totally take. Ill-advised jams around a looped sample of the band’s name? Not so much. It’s when they drop the bravado and expose a little vulnerability, as on final song Yoga Flame with its spoken word cosmic musings, that things get really exciting.
Try telling that to the crowd though, swaying about and nodding away they’re well up for the party tracks, well up for some big-beat saviours to lift their Saturday night out of the doldrums and give it a splash of global hyper-colour.
Take your pick, I guess. Thanks to the musical talents of the men on stage there’s something here for everyone. It’ll be interesting to hear where take it next.