Autorotation/DOLLS/243 Ida/Samuel

The Beehive, London -  9 June 2018

"Brilliant. Sensational. Faultless. Amazing."

I am never certain as what to expect from a DEFSynth event, other than the acts are normally of a very high standard and that DEF founder Derek Anthony Williams will as ever be an excellent host. But the venue and turnout (numbers - not quality) are often interesting.

This evening finds me in the Beehive pub in Bow, which upon entry seems to be an unlikely venue for such an eclectic event. 

I can say this having worked and grown up in the area, the Beehive is about as traditional an East End pub as you will find outside of Albert Square, and the regular clientele were probably somewhat confused by the 'creative types' that invade the pub that night. 

Also the performance area itself is very cosy (capacity is nominally 50 but 40 is probably comfortable). That said, for a venue this size it has a large stage area and the sound guy Pete deserves a mention. The sound was one of the best I have heard in a while. There is also a nice outside (smoking) area, the bar and staff are very pleasant, and the bar prices reasonable for a London venue.

So the acts for tonight are Samuel, 243 Ida, DOLLS and Autorotation (plus a guest track from the Jan Doyle Band).

Samuel DEF The Beehive Bow
     243 Ida DEF The Beehive Bow

Photos [L-R]: Samuel, 243 Ida

First up was Samuel - who was described as electronic RnB in the promotion. I am not sure this is an apt description.

The music was fun, Samuel's performance engaging and the music of an excellent quality both in terms of production and songwriting. Samuel manged to engage brilliantly with the audience and his introduction to Cocaine Cowboy - he dreamt he'd been called up by Quentin Tarantino  to right a score for his new film, and this was the outcome. The way he managed to get the entire audience to sing along was brilliant.

Samuel setlist: Suicide, Kiss My Lips (Until They Bleed), I Don't Wanna Be Alone Forever, Cocaine Cowboy, Flower's Don't Grow in Space, Only The Young, Masochist, I Eat My Feelings

243 Ida
Next up were 243 Ida who are a brilliant electronic duo of Lenni Butler (vocals) and, as she introduced herself to me, 'the other one' Emma Louise Williams-Daley (electronics - in this case Ableton Live from an APC40 and Arturia Microlab keyboard). I have to say this was a difficult act for me, as I was constantly switching between watching Lenni's brilliant vocal performance and Emma's amazing live playing on APC and Keyboard. 

243 Ida DEF The Beehive Bow    DOLLS DEF The Beehive Bow    DOLLS DEF The Beehive Bow

Photos [L-R]: 243 Ida, DOLLS x2,

Again the songwriting and sound performance were off the chart and I have to say one of the most enjoyable new bands I have seen in a very long time. It should also be noted that one of the pub 'regulars' took to the stage and microphone, but he was calmly removed (by his friends) and the band did not seem to be unduly phased by this incident.

The climax of the set was risky in so far as the covered The Smiths'  Bigmouth Strikes Again. I have to say the risk paid dividends it was sensational. 

243 Ida setlist: Mariah, Woods, Tempus, Adamas, This Electronic Morning, Bigmouth Strikes Again

I was not too surprised when I spoke to DOLLS that in the past she had been both a stand-up comedian and improvisation artist; as on stage she appears to be a very confident New Yorker. In fact she hails from Toronto in Canada and now lives in London. There is an effervescent and glamour to the performance she gives. In terms of vocal, choreography and audience engagement DOLLS nails it, and is a sensational act to see. 

I loved the fact she did a  cover of one of my all-time favourites - Animotion's Obsession which had me singing and dancing like I was possessed - or perhaps 'obsessed'? This was electronic pop at its absolute best.

DOLLS setlist: In Control, Eat It Up,  Baby It's You, Obsession (Animotion cover), Just Stop, Friend or Faux, Now Now, Breakfast Club, See Through

Autorotation DEF The Beehive Bow    Autorotation DEF The Beehive Bow    Autorotation DEF The Beehive Bow

Photos [L-R]: Autorotation x3

Another new act for me, and if it were not for events like these, probably not one I would ever have seen. 

To be honest and frank the bands music is not my usual cup of tea - being much more multi-instrumental than pure electronic. That said, such multi-instrumental groups (such as Kissing the Pink, Wovoka Gentle and even the Thompson Twins) have often been exceptions to the norm, and I am glad to say this was the case here. The band had a technical issue at the start (a faulty crackling cable) but their professionalism showed through as they played on (whilst Pete the sound guy resolved it).

After that the performance was faultless and it was amazing to watch them move around their instruments. I loved the zither and the 'skeleton guitar' - I'm not sure what else to call it!

Autorotation setlist:
Get Out, Ginger Pants, Autorrhea, Looster, Dragonfly, Mittelschmerz

Jan Doyle Band
In this case, just Derek and he only performed one track: Both. It took a  bit of haggling as we had run out of time and a single track might not seem worth it, but it was and it would not be a proper DEFSynth event without a performance from Derek.

As I said at the start, attendance at these events, number wise, can be a bit hit and miss, but tonight had an excellent turn out, both in terms of numbers and quality. The venue was excellent (different but excellent) and I would go out of my way to see any of these bands again. 8.5/10

Review + Photos: Mark Smith