Djanimals + Kyu – Northcote Social Club (20.11.2010)


Appearances can be deceiving and when Alyx Dennison and Freya Berkhout quietly walk onstage and take their place behind their instruments set up on stacks of milk crates you would be forgiven for wondering what kind of weird amateur production you’re going to be subjected to. As soon as they start to sing, all apprehension is washed away as their graceful harmonies send chills down your spine as they set about building the heady atmospherics and heavenly vocals that Kyu have quickly become renowned for. 

The girls opened with the wondrous “Pixophony” and silenced the crowd with their commanding stage presence and powerful vocal delivery that never ceases to be amazing. This was followed by “Sisters” which saw the girls beating the rhythm on their chests in a trance like state. Other highlights of the set was a gorgeous version of the glockenspiel heavy “Trains”, which saw the girls relax a little and start smiling and openly enjoying themselves onstage. Their live show is an intense affair with the heavy ethereal vibes and Kyu intently concentrating on perfectly delivering the delicate melodies from their studio work live, which is interesting to watch as they weave an elegant dance between the glockenspiels, drums and synthesisers whilst constantly maintaining spot on harmonies. To put it simply, Kyu are stunning live. Fingers crossed they’ll be back in Melbourne soon.

Headliners of the night Djanimals (the band formerly known as Danimals who had to add a J to the name or risk being sued by an American yoghurt company) put on an interesting set, that showed some promising instrumental work, but was ultimately underwhelming with the band getting carried away in their jam session that ended up sounding like one, very long piece of experimental noise works that lacked any coherent structure or sense of direction. 

The group from Sydney is the baby of Jonti Danilewitz, who was joined onstage by his four piece touring band. Their music is mostly instrumental, and is an eclectic mix pop, 60’s stoner rock and hip-hop that is weird, fun but slightly confusing as the listener is overwhelmed by the mix of sounds that don’t really gel together well. As far as their live show is concerned Djanimals seem heavily focussed on creating their sound, with the band barely acknowledging the audience (other than to respond to the heckling and in-jokes they were receiving from their friends at the bar) and to be fair they had a few moments of musical brilliance with the massive wall of sound they whipped up that was enjoyable, particularly during their heavier rock based songs. 

However the band had no alluring stage presence and the most exciting part of their set was the boys inviting Kyu up onstage to sing and jump around with tambourines to their cover of Faust’s “It’s A Rainy Day (Sunshine Girl)”. Unfortunately for Djanimals, Kyu blew them out of the water with a breathtaking set that far outstrips the headliners own ability to create an engaging live atmosphere. I’m curious to know what their studio work sounds like, but as far as their live show goes, Djanimals was as an instantly forgettable affair.