Dance-rock juggernauts LCD Soundsystem and the Rapture aren’t exactly hurting for fans, but Europe’s live dance-rock bands haven’t yet taken hold here. Copenhagen, Denmark-based dance rock outfit WhoMadeWho is just starting to build up steam in the States. An extremely well-received show at SXSW has garnered the trio its first real attention here and has subsequently led a handful of North American dates, including one in Chicago.
This past Wednesday a respectable little crowd gathered in front of the quaint backroom stage at Schubas to cheer on local indie electro fave Gemini Club through a set that was mostly highs, but had a low point or two as well. Respect must be paid for the enthusiasm and forethought put into the performance but a couple of loose wires and unexpected technical difficulties left the band improvising and cracking jokes about Russian spy sabotage. Jokes that I’m sure frontman Tom Gavin would have preferred not to make, considering the band’s aim was to keep the music flowing. Emulating a DJ set, Gemini Club maintained sound non-stop, letting one track feed into the next. That fun concept that was going without a hitch until Gordon Bramli’s drum machine set-up came unplugged. Oh well, the crowd took it as well as the band did, and the rhythm barely skipped a bit. We can hardly let something like that taint our opinion of a band that’s working overtime to fast track its music career. (Unfortunately we didn't nab any Gemini Club photos, so all those here are of WhoMadeWho).
All was especially forgotten when WhoMadeWho hit the stage. Known for its outlandish stage costumes (baby diapers, angel’s wings anyone?), the trio was especially low key tonight, performing in dress shirts, suspenders and hipster-slim slacks. Loud, tight and seemingly having more fun than the audience—at least until we all realized what was unfolding before us—WhoMadeWho has all the qualities to bump it up to larger venue the next time it makes it to town. The band effortlessly bounced from upbeat post-punk disco like its cover of Benny Benassi’s “Satisfaction” and on to midtempo chuggers like “Keep Me In My Plane.” With each passing track the crowd only seemed to grow larger and dance harder. Clearly comfortable with each other band members Jeppe Kjellberg and Tomas Hoefding harmonized and danced together as they played and joked with the crowd during the interludes. There was no shortage of beer swilling either, as Kjellberg used his pint glass for a mean bit of slide guitar at one point. These weren’t the only antics. Hoefding performed one song from atop a ladder and at the end of their first set drummer Tomas Barfod kept the beat going for a full five minutes after his mates left the stage.
People in the audience may not have been familiar with WhoMadeWho at the onset of the gig but it was clear by the end—and from the line of girls waiting to talk to them after the four-song encore—that the trio left with a substantial batch of new fans. Well deserved.
—Joshua P. Ferguson
Stay tuned till tomorrow, we'll be posting up our full interview with WhoMadeWho's Jeppe Kjellberg.