Dutch Uncles - The Fleece, Bristol
For the penultimate show of their UK tour, Marple-based Dutch Uncles perform to a doting Bristol crowd, packing the small venue with passionate and seemingly long-standing fans. An increase in publicity after the release of new LP O Shudder makes the band seem as if they've only recently emerged on the indie scene; in fact they're four albums and seven years into their idiosyncratic 'math-pop' career.
The artistry of the group's pretty album art is emulated in the kaleidoscopic colour display in their lighting set-up, the vibrant rainbow connecting to the vivid synth-pop performances. The gig's perfected eccentricity is due to the classic features that distinguish a Dutch Uncles performance - the enthralling androgynous vocals of frontman Duncan Wallis and potentially perturbing atypical rhythm. A noticeable progression in style is demonstrated by the inclusion of all albums in the 17-song strong set; the most popular singles 'Upsilon' and 'Flexxin' featured alongside a range of tunes from the oldest to newest.
'Babymaking', the first song on their latest album, opened the night and introduced the crowd to the frontman's zealous dance moves that regularly punctuate the delivery of the lyrics. The band's overall performance is surprisingly enthusiastic considering they're tied to a vast array of instruments including guitars, synths, drums and an electronic keyboard and xylophone. The strong and neat instrumental was highlighted in certain songs, intricate keyboard-playing given pride of place in 'Jetson' and 'Dressage'. The dainty keyboard solo in 'Dressage' is particularly significant as it's immediately juxtapositioned against a multi-instrument explosion that provoked such an audience response that Wallis declared they "should have ended on that one".
The warm engagement of the quintet, with anecdotes and interaction, matched with their precise and epic musical performance made for an impressive evening, one that all in attendance would love to repeat.
Words by Maisie Newman