Dubioza Kolektiv, Savage Island at Norwich Arts Centre 23 November 2015
It wasn’t easy to head out on a cold and damp November evening but it was really worthwhile doing so for this extraordinary gig at the Arts Centre and experience some of the wildest scenes I’ve witnessed in quite a while. The Dubioza Kolektiv bringing the “wild, wild east” to the music capital of the east of England. I was inspired to come to this gig on the strength of two superb videos. It was the right decision.
Dubioza Kolektiv, moving from hard dance to frenetic ska seamlessly.
When I arrived the NAC was fairly quiet and there was only one other person in the auditorium when Savage Island opened their set but it filled up rapidly once they started and soon had people dancing too. Loud, powerful, tight and melodic they had me won over within thirty seconds or so. A good mix of guitar, bass and drums with keys and brass which works really well. Formerly known as Juke and the All Drunk Orchestra they have rebranded themselves as Savage Island. I loved their delivery of scratchy, fuzzy rock and trash, the brass working nicely in the sound. Well worth catching this band.
Quite where so many people had suddenly come from I am not sure but the place had filled considerably for Dubioza Kolektiv, a huge name in Eastern Europe and they were well-represented tonight by Bosnians, Slovenians and I’m sure many other places. The venue was probably a little over half full but I have never seen an audience punch so far above its weight. From the moment the band bounded onstage until almost the entire audience got off the stage some two hours later the pace was relentless. And sooo many influences – ska, hip-hop, dance, dub, reggae, dancehall and some Balkan folk. Not always easy to make sense of all that was going on but there was no need to, it was gloriously bonkers and hilariously good fun. The crowd were as wild as the band and the dancing didn’t stop throughout. It felt like Gogol Bordello, Madness, Leningrad Cowboys, The Beastie Boys and The Prodigy all in a raucous get-together on the terraces of a Bosnian football ground. Insanely good fun.
There were plenty of highlights and lots of humour, and the audience certainly were not going to agree to the “tea-break”! I pity whoever had to clear up the ticker tape but it looked glorious at the time. They also played their homage to Pirate Bay in the celebratory and defiant ska-punk of Free mp3 , No Escape (sort of a modern day C30! C60 C90! Go!), and Balkan Funk and closed the night with some fun singalongs (including Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You (!) and Chase the Devil).
It’s no wonder these guys are in such demand on the festival circuit (one person telling me they were his highlight of Glastonbury), they undeniably know how to work a crowd. A truly astonishing evening and a non-stop party on a Monday night!
Many thanks to Dubioza Kolektiv, Savage Island, and Norwich Arts Centre
Words and photo (c) shashamane 2015