Becks Music Inspires Art: Gold Panda, Standard Planets, the eyes in the heat

Becks: Music Inspires Art: These New Puritans DJ set
With Gold Panda, Standard Planets, Hoodlums and The Eyes In The Heat
The Rest Is Noise 29/07/10

The night Music Inspires Art was part of a UK Tour sponsored by Becks. It’s all about championing new music and supporting upcoming musicians along with established ones – basically exactly what Brixton beats aims to do, so it seemed the perfect night to go to.

For most people there, These New Puritans might have been the clincher, but for me the main act I was looking forward to was Gold Panda. His music turned up mysteriously on my Spotify playlist – I honestly don’t know how it got there – and I’ve loved it ever since. (These New Puritans hardly made their presence known in fact – the music they played in between the acts was fine but nothing that blew me away).

The eyes in the heat were first of the four acts of the night and consisted of a guy and his guitar, drum machine and laptop and an androgynous-looking girl on the vocals.  Their music was electro and twangy and reminded me quite a lot of New Young Pony Club – but without the pop accessibility.

The girl didn’t seem particularly bothered by being there and most of the lyrics were lost into the vaguely grumpy ether. I’m all for creating a mood but when it blurs into just plain moody it can be tricky to connect with. On the myspace page the music seems more coherent and together, but the live set I saw it felt like the catchy music was being smothered by mediocre vocals. It might have been an off day, who knows? If anyone else has seen them live then let me know what you thought…

Next to play were Hoodlums; the flyer described them as ‘Big quiffs and twangy guitars. They also cause an absolute riot when they play live’ A riot? That’s a pretty bold statement, so I was eager to see whether it was true or not. Made up of five guys playing double bass, guitar, drums, keyboard and main vocals, Hoodlums looked chuffed to be performing. Their music, from the outset, is seriously catchy and uplifting. Great choruses and jaunty beats make their Indie Pop sound very likeable. What’s refreshing about them is that they are not trying to be uber-kooky and ‘alternative’ but instead come across as a bunch of guys that are really enjoying themselves and enjoying the music they’re playing. This – not being rocket science – means that the audience does too.

Lead vocalist Lou has a great range and influences of Freddie Mercury high notes and expression are clear. He definitely has a lot in common in terms of showmanship and wanting to entertain. They may not have caused a riot but Lou managed to skip into the audience, leap up onto a speaker and drag a table across the floor, all whilst staying pitch perfect. Best two songs of the set were Not A Love Song and a simplified version of Paper Planes. Good fun.

Next was the turn of Standard Planets. These guys played an impressive selection of instruments including the violin, keyboard, guitar, bass and drums amongst others – especially as there’s only three of them. The instrument selection was impressive but I’m sorry to say the set was not. It was a foggy mix of sounds that sometimes worked but on the whole I never really felt like it got going. I don’t know, maybe I just don’t ‘get it’, but for me it seemed almost self-indulgent and lacked any real focus. Again, when listening to the tracks on myspace, they seem more interesting, but in terms of the live performance I found it quite dull.  I think I probably didn’t get it as their myspace page clearly states ‘Standard Planets create epic symphonies that effortlessly combine elements of monolithic drone, caustic machine funk, ’67 psych, Carpathian hillbilly, fourth world soundscapes, bipolar sludge and tectonic krautrock.’ Of course, silly me.

After a breath of fresh air I came back in to see Gold Panda starting his set. Hunched over his mixing deck and totally focused, he started to mix. His music is warm and hazy (similar in that sense to Four Tet) with unique samples and a heavy bass all working together to make a sound that’s totally infectious. I started to realise that he was controlling far more than just his mixing deck and laptop as he had his foot on a mixing pedal and a keen eye on his Ipod; multitasking at it’s best.

His samples really stand out and work together well, kitsch oriental hooks combine with a Hip Hop style beat all held together a crisp electro undercurrent. Not one to shy from intricate and complex music, he commands the endless dials and switches with confidence. His confidence slipped however when his mixing pedal failed him, but he stayed cool and carried on and the audience lost no confidence at all. Pedal-free, his set continued without any other glitches or quality lost. All in all his set was brilliant, I hope he returns to Brixton soon.