The Knocks - XOYO, London
While their set at XOYO was The Knocks’ debut London gig, there’s a strong chance that you will have heard their work in one way or another. The New York duo, AKA DJ B-Roc and Mr. JPatt, have remixed established acts such as Marina & The Diamonds (who, incidentally, also came along tonight to see them in action), Ellie Goulding and Passion Pit; if you haven’t heard any, then you at least owe yourself the pleasure of listening to their funked-up remix of ‘Mowgli’s Road’. They aren’t just remix gurus though, with tonight seeing them showcasing their original work and, in turn, proving that they have the potential to be massive in 2011.
Debut gigs are always bound to be tricky given that the majority of the audience are unlikely to know every track and the fact that tonight’s gig was free entry arguably made the task trickier. Fortunately the duo’s mix of relentless energy, pounding beats and endless enthusiasm proved to be infectious and meant that those who'd simply taken advantage of some free entertainment were hooked in until the very end - a promising indicator for future success.
Confidence is not something you expect DJs to lack and both B-Roc and JPatt were consistently urging the crowd on, milking the peaks and troughs for maximum audience participation which proved particularly effective, fittingly, on ‘Something I Can Dance To’. But in truth, most peoples’ attention in the crowd won’t necessarily have been focussed on the band, given that they were flanked at the front of the stage by two dancers – christened the “UK Knockettes” – in outfits that certainly won’t have shielded them from the cold winter air outside. Originally coming on stage with a pair of golden wings that they ditched by the second song, they danced continuously through the 30-odd minute set and added to the party atmosphere being created by the duo’s funky beats, as well as adding a USP to their band’s live armoury.
The set also showcased the crucial variation of genres that The Knocks will need to succeed as a band, rather than as just successful remixers. Debut single ‘Blackout’, released back in May, adds a welcome rockier element to proceedings during its thumping chorus but still manages to maintain the ‘hands-in-the-air’ club vibe; while ‘Make It Better’ has an irresistible whistling backdrop resulting in a winning summery pop anthem in the vein of The Temper Trap. Their best though is saved for an inspired extended medley/mash-up/remix – practically impossible to describe without witnessing it – that covers the expected (Basement Jaxx) and the unexpected (The Killers) with each new track dropped resulting in another surge from the crowd to match.
This means invention can be added to The Knocks’ increasing list of positives and while festivals are a long cry from the intimate surroundings of XOYO, it wouldn’t be stretching it much to say that the duo are probably already equipped to tackle a main stage - and absolutely nail it.