Dicepeople/Leg Puppy/LVA/Ashkat

Dublin Castle, London - 25 May 2023

"Dicepeople's sound has evolved into something glorious"

If you live anywhere in or around London and haven't yet noticed what the Lucida Records label is up to with its live events then you need to pay attention.

Home to the infamous Leg Puppy, Lucida has effectively established a monthly residency at the venerable Dublin Castle in Camden, something of a near legendary live music venue, where the likes of Blur, The Killers, Madness, The Libertines, Coldplay, The Arctic Monkeys and Supergrass have all earned their live chops and built their followings.

Now, every month or two so, and supported by funding from Arts Council England, Lucida Records puts on a night showcasing some of the best rising and emerging talent operating in and around the fringes of electronic music - frequently with an emphasis on female artistes. My first gig of 2023 was at this night back in January, where I was fortunate enough to discover Analogue Electronic Whatever. Tonight was the latest compelling incarnation of the format.

Lucida Records May 2023

Photos [L-R]: Ashkat x3

First up were alt-pop outfit Ashkat. Ashkat is the stage name of the lead singer and songwriter, but tonight the act was fully realised with Cess Greeness on backing vocals and synths and Jez Noble on live electronic drumming duties. As soon as Ashkat started I was instantly reminded of the similarly distinctive tones of Kah whose first album More Than Dawn over a decade ago made an impression on me.

The intro to the second song Grow faltered, stopped and had to be restarted, but she calmly fixed it and we were quickly back in the moment. A strong voice with broad range combined with some nifty sampling and looping work with the gear was a solid way to begin the evening.

Setlist: Take My Hand, Grow, Together We Breathe, Spilt Milk, Ashes Falling

LVA is a solo artist from Bulgaria. The SETI-like signals that opened her set were tantalising. "I wanna freak you out!" she screamed. This was a promising start.

Her impressively expansive sound could easily carry an audience of several thousand in some megaclub, but I'll take a back room in a Camden pub any day of the week. Although there were actual songs in the set, it was the glitching tones that drifted in between the main tracks that I could have listen to for hours on end. Vibe wise, there were glimpses of early Grimes here and there (clearly no bad thing). I definitely want to hear the recorded versions of what I heard here.

LVA has the potential (and talent) to go seriously far. See her soon in a small venue near you - before those megaclubs call her.

Setlist: The Sandman, The Leader, Enough To Believe, Screenshot, Black Season, Virtual Love

Ashkat Dublin Castle May 2023    LVA Dublin Castle May 2023    Leg Puppy Dublin Castle May 2023

Photos [L-R]: Ashkat, LVA, Leg Puppy

There's more than a touch of The KLF about Leg Puppy. There's a nudge and a wink in the delivery, but their underlying Black Mirror-esque observations on modern society remain acerbic and just the right side of bleak. 

I say 'their' but Leg Puppy has essentially always been a 'one man band' in Darren Laurence. In times gone by, a Leg Puppy gig was a bit like someone had let loose a carnival sideshow inside a music venue by mistake. These days, the live instrumentation all falls on Laurence's shoulders, seemingly testing out a new piece of esoteric kit every few months, but there's still a performance side to every show with Madame Crumpet doing a turn and adding backing vocals.

Also, a janitor/construction worker in a high-vis jacket and yellow helmet swept his way through the crowd with a broom from time to time, recalling familiar antics by the mighty Pattenbrigade Wolff. There were some hypnotic monochrome visuals throughout as well. Very nice.

The lyrics to Your Profile is Dope are hilarious, and those to Twitter Man had been tweaked (to account for Elon Musk's acquisition) "Blue Tick Man" was now the chorus refrain. Fan favourite (and there were definitely a few Leg Puppy fans out tonight) Selfie Stick Narcissitic Prick pumped up the set towards the end and was the best rendition I've heard of it to date. The audience down the front were going nuts for it.

If Leg Puppy's aim was to get people dancing to social commentary lyrics then consider it mission accomplished.

Setlist: Mummy, Your Profile is Dope, Twitter Man, Dominator 23, Selfie Stick Narcissistic Prick, Kinky Emoji

Dicepeople Dublin Castle May 2023    Dicepeople Dublin Castle May 2023    Dicepeople Dublin Castle May 2023

Photos [L-R]: Dicepeople x3

Finally, dark-electro two-piece Dicepeople took to the stage for the (much deserved) headline slot. I've watched this act steadily develop since they first appeared on the scene a few years ago. They too have gone through a few lineup changes, but the heart remains intact with Matt Brock being the main songwriter and driving force behind the band. Lead vocals come courtesy of Zmora, who always delivers them with a performance worthy of a theatre stage.

Tonight setlist was built around their upcoming album Wasteland (released on 14th July), and the eighth track Black Tears was their version/remix of the track Tears by Leg Puppy. I was fortunate to have caught some of the new material (Red Lines, Waste, Deeper and Empress) when they performed at The Lexington in February, supporting Zanias, and was blown away by the impact of their latest songwriting. 

They opened with one of the strongest new tracks, the superb Waste, which is definitely channeling Dubnobasswithmyheadman-era Underworld. The new tracks demonstrated the range and depth to the current writing, with the more chilled entries like Solitary Soul being among the highlights. Dicepeople's sounds has evolved into something glorious, and the response at the end of their set, from a very up-for-it crowd, was rapturous, with chants for "One more song". Clearly unprepared for an encore, they had to pick something quick before the moment was lost, so used the higher BPM Control to provide a suitably dancey coda to close off an excellent evening out.   

Setlist: Waste, Red Lines, Divide and Rule, Solitary Soul, Deeper, Empress, Control, Black Tears

You've got to hand it to Lucid Records for consistently putting on inventive, often female-focused, acts that reassuringly demonstrate that there's plenty of quality, rising talent out there, if you know where to look. Thankfully, for those either too busy or lazy to do the ground work themselves, Lucid do all that hard work so you don't have to. Just turn up to the next Lucid Records night and have a great time.

Review + Photos: Rob Dyer