Dark Horses - Electrowerkz 13/06/2012
I’ve always been a sucker for the details. Some bands completely forego any extra trimmings, letting the music speak for itself whereas some see a live show not just as a communal album play-back but as more of a performance; adding extra elements such as projected videos or creative costumery. Both are equally valid, but Dark Horses in their matching, logo-bearing black leather jackets, heavy fringes and blues-rock swagger instantly appealed to my theatrical side.
Musically a kind of old-school cross between The Black Rebel Motorcycle club and Esben & The Witch, or a kind of punk-rock shoegaze band, Dark Horses know exactly what their sound (and image) is, and lock straight into it to a packed Electrowerkz, silhouetted by abstract, monochrome video projections, and continue deliberately, ponderously along that self-same groove for the duration.
Front-lady Lisa Elle strikes an imposing, slightly gothic figure centre-stage and alternates between a melodic croon and a more atmospheric drone, sometimes wordless, mostly captivating, with little flourishes of her black-gloved hands giving her the air of a slightly demented conductor.
All in all the atmosphere was strangely and pleasantly retro, the resolutely un-pretentious guitar grooves overlaid by a very tongue-in-cheek stage show. The tracks themselves, despite being relentlessly mid-tempo and frequently accompanied by near-blinding light shows (making it a more literal shoegaze show than most) held my interest strongly once I’d gotten into the initial sound, although there were moments I yearned for the track to really explode. Although, Dark Horses seem more content quietly simmering away at their own pace than pandering to my unspoken hope for an unusual hook or a big crescendo, and that’s definitely their prerogative.
Either way, a strong live set and recommended if you ever feel like a spectacle paired with rock’n’roll grooves with a touch of Swedish eccentricity.