Published May 04, 2010Dan Snaith (aka Caribou, née Manitoba) is a genius and he has the live show — and PhD — to prove it. He and his touring four-piece kicked off their current North American trek with a towering, writhing set full of cerebral dance cuts.
Caribou's songs never waste a single beat, squeak or squawk. Constituent parts, from repetitive guitars, carefully placed tambourines, thumping bass lines or recorder melodies, blend together to form bouncing concoctions, which Snaith et al impressively render live. Thus, though the arrangement may brim with erudition, the live result remains visceral and engaging.
Unlike outfits that simply rely on massive beats or circling synths, Caribou takes a kitchen-sink approach to dance music, with each track relying on a unique mixture of melody and rhythm. Whether delving into mathematical psychedlia, post-rock or Hot Chip-indebted faux-electronica, the band kept things buoyant. Ballad-free, the set soared, with dual tribal drumming, fake-out codas and extended breakdowns all upping its energy.
Andorra hit, the 1960s-nodding "Melody Day," got the crowd moving with its second-act pause and cathartic resumption, while "Odessa" melded "Staying Alive"-style cadence, a soul-aping bass line and a recorder. Conversely, and more traditionally, "Hannibal" had the audience jumping to big beats and looping melodies, throwing in a late vocal balm just to mix things up.
Intellectualism aside, a Caribou gig is ultimately about the dance party. Throughout, punters bopped along, presumably largely unconcerned with sonic schematics. Incidentally, dual tribal drumming works every time.