Dan Snaith never intended to make popular music, but a packed Black Cat on Saturday night shows that despite his best efforts, Caribou’s music resonates with a broad and appreciative audience.
On a freezing night in Washington D.C., people poured into the main stage at the Black Cat for a late show. Opener Jessy Lanza – Snaith’s fellow Canadian and one of the main collaborators on Caribou’s latest record, Our Love – held the audience in the palm of her hand with little more than a drum machine, a sampler, and her gorgeous voice. She might not be as well known as the other Jessies on the scene (Ware, J), but her dynamic range and evident technical chops as a songwriter and producer makes you think that it won’t be long before she’s selling out this venue herself.
Caribou is a well-drilled unit, and the band touring with Snaith complements each other nicely. Playing with a live drummer, a bassist, and a guitarist/synth player, its sound was full and robust. The set consisted mainly of tracks from Our Love, and while renditions were somewhat faithful to the studio cuts, it was impressive to see how the band was able to expand on each and every song, turning them all into extended dance numbers. At times, the performance even resembled those of more traditional electronic jam bands like Lotus or the Disco Biscuits, and the temperature was rising on the dance floor as people got moving. For seventy five minutes, there was nothing else but Caribou.
The audience was very receptive to everything the band was doing. It’s is evident that Our Love has been an extremely well-received record. Most people were singing along to every word with visible emotion, rising and falling in unison as if the lyrics were their own. The most rapturous reception was reserved for “Second Chance” – a song featuring Lanza on vocals – and of course, for “Odessa”, the track that really brought Caribou into sharp focus on the electronic music scene. And, more encouragingly – people were watching the show and taking it in, instead of recording everything on their phone. (There was one notable exception standing about five feet ahead of me. I don’t think he actually saw a single moment with his own eyes!)
It’s both heartwarming and a bit confusing to have to share this “hidden gem” of a band with about 800 new friends, but if Snaith and co. continue doing what they’re doing, we’ll look back fondly on this tour as one of the last moments we were able to enjoy a magical, relatively intimate performance by Caribou.