You don’t have to watch Darwin Deez - and his band - on stage for long to realise how much he loves doing what he does. Aside from those infectious joy-filled pop effusions, there’s a one-for-all and all-for-one sense of camaraderie that emanates from the band and extends beyond their music. This makes perfect sense when you remember the band is made up of best friends, chosen not by audition or from a want-list of tick-boxily great musicians, but because to each other, each band member is an awesome person. They’re a team. It’s easy to forget how important this chemistry is in a band, but when you see it in action, when you see a bunch of awesome people playing awesome tunes and doing awesome dances, there is only one way to describe how they’re going to leave you feeling. That’s right. Awesome.
The dances have to be mentioned, because a live Darwin Deez set has become almost as famous for its deceptively complex dance interludes as it has for their instantly recognisable jaded-lollipop-quirk-pop alone. The backing track starts, the band down tools and assume their positions. The crowd shrieks in with excitement with every one, so spot on is the timing and geometry of the moves. There’s a lot of hip hop influence in the choreography but a lot of performance value too and it would be a mistake to dismiss the Darwin Deez dances as frivolous filler - you’ll be cheerleading for the Team Deez by the end of the first bar.
So if the moves set the mood, the mood is upbeat, and tinged with some '80s sparkle and thoughtful-kid-from-Fame frivolity. There’s a roughly fifty-fifty split between the glorious summer-tinged bubblegum singles from the debut album 'Darwin Deez' (think ‘Radar Detector’, ‘Up In The Clouds’ and ‘Constellations’ - all huge, mood boosting hits), and the work from the newly released 'Songs For Imaginative People'. The latter are still quintessentially Darwin Deez with their distinctive vocals and twangy melodies, but after the summer bubblegum has popped in your face a couple too many times, and your summer feeling has dumped you. There’s an edge of bittersweet disjointedness to ‘You Can’t Be My Girl’, ‘Moonlit’ and single ‘Free (The Editorial Me)’ that comes through in heavier guitars and vociferous melancholy, but which still keeps the crowd hyped and revelling in Darwin Deez’s effortlessly unassuming charm.
A Darwin Deez live show, then, is an experience. Yes there are heavy '80s influences, from B-boy hip hop to pastel fashion to kitschy beats, but watch the band for even half of one song and you can tell these aren’t gimmicks, it's just how the band feel most comfortable to be expressive. And that’s what art and creativity and joy is all about. A complete package of unforced Darwin Deez brand self-expression will deliver the most enjoyable all-round evening’s entertainment you will find involving some moves, a headband and a four-string guitar.
Words by Elly Oracle
Photos by Haydn Rydings