Review-Maribou State at Purple Turtle, Reading- 16th February 2016

Maribou State at The Art School, Glasgow in 2015
Picture: Matthew Swan/Flickr
Electronic duo Maribou State played a warm-up gig for their upcoming UK tour on Tuesday, taking to the (admittedly small) stage of Purple Turtle in Reading for a live set. Hard to pin down as far as genre goes, Maribou State’s online descriptions range from garage to instrumental hip hop to contemporary R&B, but sound-wise they slot easily into place as a more downbeat Disclosure, something like Bondax on a comedown, or a slightly less orchestral take on Bonobo.
Support was from the excellent Twin Sun, who described themselves as “unpretentious and summery” although Pete Wheeler, one half of the duo, said he preferred my initial impression of “Being inside a cartoon spaceship”, so pick whichever of those you prefer. Maribou State (billed as “Ian & I” in perhaps the worst kept secret set of all time) came on at around half ten, playing an hour long set complete with live drummer and an array of guitar pedals that were confusing to look at, let alone use. Being at a gig that fits more into the “3am start and a bucket of MDMA” category at half ten after only a couple of pints was a strange experience, although as somebody that isn’t a huge fan of the genre it was nice to be able to stand and appreciate what was happening without a stranger telling me how much they love me whilst chewing through their own tongue. The music itself was enjoyable and it was impressive seeing how well something clearly originally made on a laptop translated into a traditional band setup, and even if it was reverse engineered it did somehow seem more authentic than a DJ set, which can only be a good thing.
The highpoint of the gig were the songs with vocalist Holly Walker, who added a focal point that some of the set was lacking, and actually managing to get a relatively sober crowd dancing and singing along to a remix of “Praise you” by Fatboy Slim towards the end, even if she did have to ask everyone politely to join in before they let themselves have a bit of fun. The feeling of the set being a warmup for bigger things was definitely there and I’d say that their upcoming gigs will probably be better, but that’s to be expected at an event that’s clearly intended to test out their set before sold out gigs around the country and hey, for a free entry gig on a Tuesday night it was still good fun, so I can hardly complain.
Overall if you’re a fan of Maribou State, Tuesday’s gig probably wasn’t the best place to go and see them, with a pretty static crowd and an early set time making it more of a taster for people that are on the fence than a night out for the converted. Having said that the songs were good, the playing was incredibly tight (especially considering they didn’t start out as a live act) and the people there were definitely enjoying themselves, even if they were just tapping their feet and sipping a vodka coke rather than shuffling manically with a bottle of water in their hand as I feel the crowd at their future gigs may well be.

Both acts are on Soundcloud:
You can listen to Twin Sun here: www.soundcloud.com/twinsunmusic
and Maribou State here: www.soundcloud.com/mariboustate

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