The Nocturnal Showcase at Decibel Festival kept things moving right along Friday night with one of the best beginning to end bills we saw all weekend. Headlining the night was a solid set from British synth pop goddess Little Boots. Preceding her were stellar sets from Light Asylum, Young Galaxy, and MNDR. This night of dancing flew by and seemed to end far too quickly, but not before each and every one of these acts threw all of their best cards on the table and brought the house down.
“I can rock 20 people like nobody else”, Amanda Warner joked as her MNDR set began. True, at the beginning, the room was pretty empty, but MNDR’s brilliantly inviting dance music kept the numbers growing throughout her set. On her debut 2012 LP, Feed Me Diamonds, Warner offsets EDM size and mass with bright, passionate songwriting and 80s texturing and vocals. The result is an impactful and memorable dance experience. Warner carries herself well. Even with the small numbers she was calling individuals in the crowd out who were singing along or participating and keeping everything fun and exciting. Singles like “Faster Horses”, “Stay”, and “U.B.C.L.” warmed everyone in the house right up to her. Along her classic collaboration with Mark Ronson “Bang Bang Bang”, she played her song with RAC “Let Go” as well as a new, crazy awesome record featuring production from Switch. MNDR kept the energy building like none other Friday night and got the party off to a wonderful start.
Vancouver synth pop group Young Galaxy has had an excellent 2013 thus far. This year, they are starting to gain some real traction on the scene with the acclaimed new record Ultramarine, which was a long-listed nominee for the 2013 Polaris Music Prize. It’s not hard to believe either. With time, their sound and songwriting style has only grown more focused and progressive, and now, they have packed out crowds waiting eagerly to sing along with them. Stephen Ramsay and Catherine McCandless trade vocals and build energy off of each other both on stage and in the crowd. Dressed in all black and shadowed by a psychedelic color display projected over them, Young Galaxy danced and swayed and kept the vibe up for the entirety of their set.
It must be hard to play a set with Light Asylum. It doesn’t matter if you come before or after them in a lineup – this Brooklyn band will most likely have you beat for intensity. The duo is made up of Shannon Funchess and Bruno Coviello. Bruno mans the synthesizers and backing samples while Shannon screams bloody murder on the vocals and beats the crap out of a drum pad set to all kinds of intergalactic noise and sound. Singles like “Pope Will Roll” showcase their brutal warrior cry. “Charge me!”, Funchess screams over and over again, commanding the crowd into function with their captivating tunes. But closing with the more emotional note of “A Certain Person”, Light Asylum proved they are more than a one trick pony. But whether it’s in the form of tribal bloodbath or 80s power ballad, Light Asylum throw down, and there’s nothing that’s going to stop that.
Only two LPs under her belt (or boots), Victoria Christina Hesketh has garnered a pretty stellar following for herself. On new record Nocturnes, she braves the seas of nu-disco and gives us some devilishly good tunes. While the likes of Joe Goddard (of Hot Chip) helped produce her 2009 debut, Nocturnes finds help from Andrew Butler (of Hercules and Love Affair), Jeppe Laursen (of Junior Senior) and former DFA affiliate Tim Goldsworthy. The team is right, and the songs are divine. Live, Little Boots only takes on more territory and headway. Hesketh may be petite up there, but alternating between different vocal transformers and synthesizers and floating around stage with the grace of an angel, she commands the crowd like a sergeant general. Blazing through smash singles like “Motorway” and “Confusion”, Hesketh held a packed house until the final hour. I’d say that’s 3 for 3 for Decibel Festival 2013’s Neumos action.