Live Review: AK/DK + Man From Uranus at The Lexington

I heard AK/DK at the start of this year with the track ‘Morphology’. Straight away I bought and binge-listened to the album Patterns/Harmonics. It’s the kind of album that quickens the heartbeat, makes you walk faster and causes you to smile when you’re on your own. I knew there are only 2 members to AK/DK: Ed Chivers and Graham Sowerby, so heading up to The Lexington I wondered how they would recreate their sound live.

It was an evening of dopamine hits; the first coming when I saw the stage set up. We all know the default: some amps, drum kit, mics and maybe keyboards or occasionally something unusual like a harp, typewriter or steel drums. But there’s no back-of-the-stage drums for AK/DK, they have two kits front and centre both entwined in glowing disco rope. Surrounding the two kits are an array of keyboards, pedals and mixers with vertical lights along the side and back.

There was admirable support from the weird and wonderful ‘Man from Uranus’. You don’t get to see too many people who’ve built a note-generating-button into their hat and offer up music that sounds like fruit-machine psychedelia with songs speeding up and slowing down, switching from 4 on the floor to drum and bass. It put me in mind of Twink who mix electronics with kid’s toys. The stand out number was ‘Duck Wars’ (yes, there was quacking).

rhdr

AK/DK took to the stage and (literally) climbed into their kits like two sonic astronauts getting ready for launch. And launch they did; from the smoking engines of ‘Drone in A’ & ‘Motorik improv in A’ to ignition and take off from ‘Maxwell’s Waves’ (from the album Synths+Drums+Noise+Space). More dopamine. At the end of this trio the crowd gave up an almighty collective roar of satisfaction.

Whereas the album tracks are tight and lean the live versions allow them to build, layer and really work the light and shade aspect of looping and sequencing. They tease and coax the technology, building a foundation of sound flotsam and jetsam, adding layers of harmonic voices or protest march shouts with one playing mad professor on the keyboards and technology while the other plays drums; sometimes doing both at the same time. This febrile collage is foreplay for the drop; the exquisite drop. Having built the tower they would exchange a look and BOOM, leap off with a huge hit of double drummer and another gallon of dopamine. This is a punk version of the Chemical Brothers with all the charm of DEVO.

AK/DK looked like they were having the time of their lives and said how blown away they were to be headlining at the Lexington. They tried to close their set with the anthemic new single ‘Defragment to Survive’ but the audience bayed for an encore and got the blistering speed-thrill of ‘Morphology’. Their performance was a call to arms, and legs, and they made this Monday night audience Friday night happy.

Full set list (provided by the band via Facebook messenger):

– Drone in A
– Motorik improv in A
– Maxwell’s Waves
– Lorem Ipsum
– Kosmische
– Lagom
– Casio Beguine
– Battersea
– Defragment to Survive
————
– Morphology

Review and photography by Paul F Cook

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