Fuck Buttons El Mocambo, Toronto, ON November 23

Fuck Buttons El Mocambo, Toronto, ON November 23
Despite indie disco's continued prevalence and a massive per capita increase in concert dancing, not every blip combo can get crowds writhing. UK two-piece, Fuck Buttons (aka Andrew Hung and Benjamin John Power), started their Monday night set bopping assuredly while the crowd mustered little more than loyal head nodding. However, a relentless quasi kick drum, a laundry list of musical references and a joyful set eventually energized the punters.

Fuck Buttons' catalogue of sonic allusions is longer than Dirk Diggler's you-know-what, and the live show mined it compellingly. Red-herring shades of Explosions in the Sky, Underworld, Crystal Castles, early Animal Collective and even Sigur Ros turned up throughout, though never definitively. A distorted pseudo guitar and scattered, indecipherable dance-core vocals became motifs, but otherwise, the sound was impeccably clean, if not crystalline.

Unlike the work of many other Bristol, UK bands (see every good trip-hop outfit), Fuck Buttons' two records have little gloom. They do have subtle feats of laptop orchestration, and live, the songs became refreshingly sonorous without abandoning their on-disc intricacies.

The key to the duo's success was syntax and constant movement. Occasionally, the band fell in love with repetition, hammering beats into the ground, but only for brief stretches. Many cuts thrived on progression, swelling like M83 songs albeit without the easy payoff. A four-four thump anchored others, letting left-field melodies arrive on a whim and disappear without becoming non-sequiturs.

Steadily, the set built tension, getting tighter, and by its conclusion, the perpetually ascending show had spurred a restrained yet spirited dance party of the sweaty (i.e., good) ilk.