You’re never too old for Electronica! Sylvan Esso at The Village Underground

Noga Erez
Sylvan Esso




Ever since the 1980’s I’ve liked Electronica, which is why I’m pleased to find it’s still very much alive and kicking and been re-invented in the form of synth pop for a new generation. I really liked North Carolina duo Sylvan Esso on download and with no idea of their appeal or popularity, set off to the cool Village Underground in Shoreditch to see them perform live.

Armed only with a phone with intermittent data signal and some slightly tense moments trying to decide which underground station was the closest we finally arrived at Village Underground, and entered what looked like a large underground arch, full of dry ice,  gold PU mini-skirts, beards of various descriptions and crop tops.

Fortified with a Ginger Beer and Aspall against the dry ice and general crypt-like atmosphere we claimed our spot near the front and awaited the first act, which turned out to be the amazingly energetic and entertaining Noga Erez. The Israeli duo performed a short set of their politically charged, fast-paced and experimental brand of electronica including their fantastic debut single Dance While You Shoot. A totally different but really vibrant performance, and for me personally really heartening to see the first of two acts led by women in a genre which was so male dominated in its’ first incarnation.

So warmed up by the antics of Noga Erez, the crypt filled up, and we were now surrounded by quite a varied crowd and I felt brave enough to peel off one layer of outerwear ready for the main act Sylvan Esso, an electro-pop duo from North Carolina combining melodic moogs with great synth dance tracks and soulful songs. The lighting changed from alarming red to blue and green for Sylvan Esso as Amelia gyrated in front of us pulling and holding poses still cloaked in dry ice. We had a good old dance, and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves apart from a couple of moments when one of the exuberant dancers in front of us managed to head butt A backwards, and pin us to the spot unable to move.

With their down to earth lyrics, and gorgeous smooth vocals backed by tinkling synths, I loved Coffee and Hey Mami, and exalted on by Amelia to make some sweat on a Thursday night we did our best to accommodate and had a great time.

We both agreed afterwards that if we open our own music venue we’re going to have to mark out little boxes on the floor and ask punters to dance exuberantly only inside their own designated spaces to avoid potential injury to others, provide cups of optional alcoholic hot cocoa and hot water bottles before the acts come on stage.

It was great to see electronica evolving, becoming more human and approachable and adopted by a new generation. It’s no wonder that tickets for this gig sold out within two hours of going on sale, so I seriously recommend you grab tickets now whilst you can for Sylvan Esso’s next appearance in the UK at the Shepherds Bush Empire later this year as they are sure to have been adopted by an army of twenty-something year-old hipsters and a few more of us middle-aged electronica fans by then. Meanwhile I’m off to experiment with the dry ice and alco-hot chocolate.





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