AK/DK @ Green Door Store, Brighton 25.03.15

Brightonian synth-rock duo triumph on home turf

Mar 25th, 2015 at Green Door Store, Brighton / By John Dineen
AK/DK @ Green Door Store, Brighton 25.03.15 Brighton's Green Door Store has always been a fitting venue for anarchic synth-rock duo AK/DK with it's murky subterranean atmosphere echoing the band’s unpredictable and mercurial nature. A reputation for barnstormingly energetic performances proceeds the band and the Green Door Store was alive with anticipation. Where once AK/DK were an indefinable enigma, this home town crowd have learnt that they are now a cast iron guarantee of bombastic thrills and the audience were aptly in an ebullient and celebratory mood.

The evening began with a curious North Atlantic prologue with support from two Icelandic electro pioneers. Good Moon Deer delivered a set of glitchy Aphex Twin inspired weirdness that was very much the sound of a warehouse party on The Death Star. Futuristic and ominous. Berlin based M-Band followed this with a surprisingly emotional set of soaring vocals over a throbbing and elegiac electronic hum. Both acts were warmly received and were a reminder of AK/DK's versatility as it seems as natural for them to play with electronica acts as with rock bands.

In typical AK/DK fashion their set began with a seemingly chaotic wall of synth noise slowly evolving into the thrillingly hypnotic groove of early single ‘Maxwell's Waves’. A firm fan-favourite, the song instantly turned this gig into a party as it's mind bending blend of modulated synthesizer sequences and punky urgent drums brought the crowd to their feet. Being blessed with two musicians equally adept on keyboards and drums is what makes the AK/DK sound so unique and is perfectly exemplified on ‘Maxwell's Waves’ which crescendos with Graham Sowerby and Ed Chivers soul thumping unison drumming.

Having begun with one of their classic electro-punk crowd pleasers, the band instantly switched tack with their second track, the menacing and expansive ‘Kosmischer’. Displaying the more experimental and psychedelic side of their sound, this song has become a showpiece for the band’s insanely ambitious improvisational bent. Building from a Krautrock groove, the song meanders through various different sequences of keyboard weirdness which is as equally unpredictable to the audience as the musicians. It is a testament to the psychic chemistry of the duo that whilst obviously improvised, the song still sounds expertly composed.

The improvised and wonderfully meandering nature of much of AK/DK's music is what really makes them special live. The naturalness and openness of their improvisations almost feels like a communion with the audience as they react to the energy and rhythms of the crowd as if they're part of the creative process. It is a rare thing for a gig to feel so inclusive and generous whilst being equally uncompromising in its musical ambition.

In a set filled with stomping grooves, the ear shredding keyboard stabs of ‘Lorem Ipsum’ was a particular highlight, this early song having evolved into a glam rock shuffle. Littered with Graham Sowerby's insane but inspired processed vocals and Ed Chivers relentless kick-drum work, the song was an anthemic highlight of a taut set and again showcased their ability to switch from expansive prog noodling to pop hooks in an instant.

A triumphant set was completed to the delight of the crowd with a stonking version of their now classic song, ‘Battersea’. A song built around the marriage between an ear worm of a catchy melody and a euphoric mastery of dynamics that saw the crowd erupt every time the beat was dropped.

Another wonderful performance from one of today’s most pioneering and unique bands. That just two musicians with an array of drums and keyboards can produce such diverse and indefinable music is astonishing and perhaps why they're Brighton's best kept secret. In a music business where everything must be defined, AK/DK refute this and manage to simultaneously be the best rock band, electro band, prog band and pop band all at once. Make sure you see them before someone manages to define and market their sound and we no longer get to enjoy them in such intimate venues.