Darkstar‘s Britishness was given away by the heavy jackets its three members were wearing on stage. The air was thick and heavy outside, which evidently meant nothing—their attire inside Le Poisson Rouge made the smoke seem more like dry ice, as if the trio were standing inside of a walk-in freezer. The whole thing was kind of arctic tundra-inspired—something like a heathen coven-meets-gothic tribal council—all dark and solemn and seemingly about making some kind of serious point. James Buttery, Darkstar’s singer, stalked around the stage, eyes aflame with either real or perceived dramatic elements (his long red hair was an incidental nice touch). Meanwhile the architects of the band, James Young and Aiden Whalley, kept their eyes on their machines, prodding them like Lurch at a keyboard.
The sounds Darkstar uses live became appropriate to its self-created setting, being icier than what appears on record. LPR’s large club system swallowed any of the delicateness present on the handful of Darkstar’s singles and last year’s North, and drones and other militant forces of sound swelled inside of the room. “Gold” took on a more aggressive stance, and the one dude, who for most of the set was the only individual really dancing, grew into one of many. Fist pumping did in fact happen.
Aside from Buttery, who had his moments, the three men weren’t particularly animated; however, through maximal sound and minimal action, Darkstar managed to radiate a simmering intensity. The lighting guy took his own creative license, inserting some strobe and pulses during climaxes, and raining white light zealously at a violent moment in the music.
Point Of Note: It was announced earlier this year that Darkstar signed to Warp, having been on Kode9’s Hyperdub label for its previous releases. Those at last night’s performance will inevitably claim “I saw their first New York show” for future cool points.
All photos by Carine Thevenau
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