The beautiful Caribou circle

“They’re like the band we’d create for ourselves,” we say. “They’re the band that seem to have got inside our heads and created themselves for us…” We’re babbling mid-gig about just how perfect we find Dan Snaith and his geometrically pleasing, circle-obsessed fellow rave technicians. Their pumping beats arrive cushioned by sprigs of floral electronica; their ascending, optimistic, massive tunes reach out and embrace us in purple arcs of sound. 

They start with their breakthrough club hit, Odessa, which still sounds like an excitable robot chimp roaming around a warehouse party, exclaiming joyfully as it rounds a new corner and finds more dancers clustered in neon corners. Snaith pauses to tell us how happy Caribou feel to be performing again, their first gigs in the UK since the pandemic. Mutual gratitude whirls as the opening bars of Our Love chime into the night; everybody’s beaming but there’s something of a mournful clarion call here too; an ode to all the hours of dancefloor emotion we lost. When the track breaks with its delicious Technotronic-reminiscent moment of piano house, we all lose it together. God, we missed this.

Here, tonight, a Friday in autumnal London, everything feels pretty special. People around us clutch two-pint glasses of lager with a day-release mood of glee. No-one’s in a grump. The tall man right in front of me turns out to be a lovely guy having a lovely time with his girlfriend. I’m unwittingly in the corner of all their romantic gig selfies – hi! – and I’m smiling. When I go to the loo (thank you Brixton Academy for the best-placed ladies loos – stage left, you don’t need to miss a song – in any major venue I know) I stumble back into the audience and briefly lose sight of where I’d been standing. “You’re just here!” pipes up a grinning woman in an acid house smiley T-shirt, ushering me back towards my gig pal, Jenny. People are delightful, the music is delightful. This is the Caribou circle, a lovely place. 

The gig escalates at just the right pace. A soaring, kaleidoscopic version of Sun has everyone chanting “Sun, sun, sun, sun!” like dawn is breaking over the geodesic domes we now call home; Dan Snaith our cult leader, us now willing and loyal inhabitants of Caribou world, where the orange juice in the breakfast bar is freshly squeezed, absolutely fruity fine and served with pomegranate jewels. We are ready for our day of labour, ploughing the disco fields dutifully with Snaith and his white T-shirted electro-henchmen.

New song You Can Do It is cartoonish and paints smiley faces everywhere. We’re all, at last, that exuberant puppy racing through a field. A twitchy, elfin Never Come Back showcases Snaith’s humbly beautiful falsetto vocals. And in every Caribou track the drop – that moment when the crowd is set free by the beat – is withheld in a way that feels mathematically rewarding, but never an all-out Ibiza tease. You and I brings a panoramic interlude and its synth chords transport us to a lush driving scene in a lost ’80s movie. The Caribou algorithm seems programmed to engage our hopeful hearts and dancing feet in all the right ways.

I babble again about Caribou’s knack of giving each song a just-the-right-length live outing: enough to get lost in concentric circles of sound, but not too much that you start thinking about getting another pint. The epic, soulful mega-hit, in every universe but stupid little ours, Can’t Do Without You, which my friend hilariously and touchingly declares “our song” (it heralded the end of our days working together at Channel 4 News, a sad but optimistic time, already seven years ago) lifts up our chins and our hearts, sending the room’s shared euphoria bubble spinning towards the arched ceiling. The crowd belts out the song’s repeat refrain with joyful devotion and people turn from the stage to each other; some embrace in circles of friendship and love, others grin at strangers. No-one wants to break the spell. 

I can’t do without you
I can’t do without you
I can’t do without you
I can’t do without you
I can’t do without you
I can’t do without you
I can’t do without you
I can’t do without you
I can’t do without you
I can’t do without you
I can’t do without you
I can’t do without you
I can’t do without you
I can’t do without you
I can’t do without you
I can’t do without you

Anna Doble @ Caribou, O2 Academy, Brixton
October 2021

 

1 Comment

  1. I have, and I love, the Caribou album ‘Suddenly’. After this review, I will be getting involved in more Caribou and need to see them live.

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