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Live Report: Mauskovic Dance Band at the Shacklewell Arms
Diva Harris , October 24th, 2018 10:43

Dancing and sweating and disco intuition on a rainy Sunday night

Ordinarily, it would take some convincing to get people to haul their arses down to a tiny, oddly painted room on a drizzly night to watch a band’s first ever London gig. But not last Sunday, when rhythmic-space-disco-hungry hordes squished into the Shacklewell Arms for a sweaty slice of The Mauskovic Dance Band. Later than advertised, the band clambered onto the stage from the depths of the restless crowd and into their tangle of guitars, keyboards, synths, effects pedals, drums, maracas and infinite cowbells, and set the mood for the next hour or so: let loose, but keep it chill.

Borrowing textures and rhythms from the heritages of the band’s five members – from Afro-Colombian cumbia, champeta and palenque through to disco and no-wave – their music is frenetic and multilayered. It could easily be a bit all-over-the-shop as a live set-up, but The Mauskovic Dance Band are blessed with that rare and magical thing: a synergy and musical prowess which lets them change tempo or direction fluidly and without so much as a glance in one another’s direction. (The only other time I’ve experienced this to such a degree is watching many-membered Aussie psych big dogs King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard.)

With little talking in between, the set’s songs pretty much merge into one seamless jam, as Nicola, Donnie, Juan, Marnix and Mano rattle through the galloping ‘The Opposite’, hooky-as-hell ‘Continue the Fun’, and the Casio-keyboard-demo-track-tinged ‘It’s All Mauskovic’. Everything is kept on a steady boil over syncopated beats and the pew! pew! pew! of disco synth. By the time the boys make it to their best-known song – the ecstatic ‘Down in the Basement’ – everyone’s fringes are plastered to their foreheads and the mirrors in the room are completely fogged over with condensation. Does that put us off having a proper mad dance, though? Not a chance. And thus the transportation from damp late October London backroom to balmy tropical fiesta is complete.

The Mauskovic Dance Band are a controlled explosion, playing busy, elastic rhythms – and often multitasking on instruments – without coming anywhere close to losing their cool. What a pleasure; what a way to see the weekend out.