Beehive, London - 9 June 2018
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
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
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).
[L-R]: Samuel x2, 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
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.
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
Photos [L-R]: 243 Ida, DOLLS x2,
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
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
[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
Autorotation setlist: Get
Out, Ginger Pants, Autorrhea, Looster, Dragonfly,
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
Photos: Mark Smith