Lo-fi indie-pop collective Darwin Deez are midway through their UK tour, and their pit stop at The Bodega was something that, if you weren’t in attendance, you definitely missed out on. If you haven’t heard of the group before, their live performance is a plethora of the arts, combining sounds with engaging dance routines and mysterious sampling. Darwin Smith, the founder and frontman of the band, appeared in his usual baggy attire, sporting his poodle-esque hairstyle that makes you ponder his morning routine.

With The Bodega being a close, intimate venue, it was ideal for those who wanted to get up close and personal with their idol, and boy did he reciprocate. Crowd participation was a huge feature of the evening, with frequent jokes being cracked and audience involvement throughout.

The set was kicked off with some classics; ‘Up In The Clouds’, a track from their first, self-titled album, set the tone – close and concise drum beats lay behind funky, melodic guitar riffs from the main man. The other guitarists dipped in and out with major key harmonising vocals which really lifted all involved. Other songs from the old album included ‘Constellations’, which reminded Deez fans of Darwin’s abilities as a poet as well as a vocalist. The lyrics “twinkle twinkle little star, how I wonder what you are” mimicked by “wrinkle wrinkle, little scar, count the freckles on my arm” reflect the simplistic yet intriguing pull of the band. Later in the performance we were exposed to two of the headlining tracks on this release: ‘Radar Detector’ which got the crowd moving and excited, with the catchy riffs and vocals flirting with falsetto in the chorus. ‘Bad Days’ ear-grabbing and recognisable melody told a story to us, and made us want to know more about what inspired these tunes to be written.

“The Bodega was ideal for those who wanted to get personal with their idol, and boy did he reciprocate”

An outstanding feature of the evening was the intermittent choreography that the entire band performed. Spontaneously between the songs, the four-piece would line up at the front of the stage and produce a comprehensive yet bizarre dance, accompanied by popular music edits. This feature is characteristic of Darwin Deez, and parallels their positive, care-free attitude that is so well-displayed in their music. The dances would end and blend straight into the following song on the list, which added fluidity to the evening; a constant stream of the arts.

Amidst the old stuff came the newer, and ‘Chelsea’s Hotel’, a track from their second release, Songs For Imaginative People, was engaging to say the least. The song begins with a slow and easy sound, progressing into a concoction of musicality, with Darwin erupting into Hendrix cum Van Halen guitar improvisation that reflected the depth of his ability – he might be a skeleton with hair in a jumper, but he knows where the frets are. The group also played a number of tracks from their latest release, Double Down. ‘Kill Your Attitude’, ‘Bag of Tricks’ and ‘The Mess She Made’ all featured, and although enthralling to watch, it was apparent that the tone slightly differed to their older works. Chemistry between the members was still palpable however, and this rubbed off on the people watching, with Darwin even inviting a young fan onto the stage to join in with some of their interpretive dancing – I think she may have mistook the venue for Stealth with the erratic shapes she produced.

All in all, watching Darwin Deez was an experience that arts fans should strive to see again and again. The amalgamation of music and movement was extraordinary, and the care-free, lonerish attitude that rubbed off onto the audience made us ever more curious as to what is going through this edgy performer’s eccentric mind.

Will McCartney

Image: Rodrigo Esper

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