Stumbling across Goan Dogs at a Sofar Sounds secret gig in a beautiful East London flat, I was pleasantly surprised by the energy the five piece generated in a room full of people who had never heard their music before.
Their stripped back set provided a taster of the bold flavour of their typical live shows. After explaining that their music has been compared to something you would find on a Quentin Tarantino soundtrack, the band invited me to their gig at the Lexington the following day where they brought big band vibes and an enchanting light show. What I soon found was that the Western flair oozing through their music was just a small part of an overall package that combines pop exuberance, resonant lyrics and quirky embellishments.
The gig began with the trumpet line for ‘No One Around’ floating through the audience. On the trumpet was Sam, who proved over the course of both gigs that he’s an excellent keyboardist, guitarist and maraca player (who knows what else). The drop rhythms in Goan Dogs’ music seem to fuse a polka and the off-beats of an Egyptian folk song. Meanwhile ‘Hot Box’, one of their poppiest songs, has a catchy reggae swing that reminded me of bluesier version of Police’s ‘Don’t Stand So Close To Me’.
I particularly enjoyed the beautiful harmonies flowering throughout the night. In ‘Drifting Apart’, the frontman Luke’s lyrics are genuinely affecting, with simple lines like, ‘I never thought I’d say it but we’re drifting apart’ enhanced by sweeping ethereal harmonies. I noticed a couple look over at each other quite sadly during this song and it was fascinating to see the way the set took the crowd through a winding road of emotions.
After their new single, ‘You Drive Me Wild’, in which Luke sings, ‘I can’t get the smell of you out of my clothes’, a chemistry developed in the venue that was hard to ignore. Couples exchanged glances and flirtatiously danced towards each other like some sort of pheromone spray had been secretly pumped into the Lexington. This is the sort of music that coaxes you to jump into mischief with big pulses of sound fueling the lovers’ preamble.
The support acts, consisting of Joe Probert, a former street busker, and the female led Wyldest, plumped up the whole night quite nicely. Joe Probert brought the spirit of Bristol with him, enthusing his set with a fresh honesty. Wyldest meanwhile, were otherworldy to watch play. After the gig I approached their guitarist Mariin who told me of the thrill of playing live: “I enjoy every gig. Every gig is like a psychedelic experience, like a shot to the veins without the drugs.” The bands certainly created a high amongst the crowd, fortunately a legal one.
Overall it was a joy to see the flair and hutzpah that Goan Dogs bring to their shows, so much of their magic is in their live performance but that doesn’t in anyway mean their EP, released April 14th, isn’t worth a listen to if you’re looking for a Calexico fighting with Fleet Foxes sort of sound.
Check out their fun music videos on YouTube to see what a cool alt-rock pop band looks like jamming to their songs with cheekily choreographed dance moves.
Featured image: Bristol Live Magazine.