Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs | O2 Academy Bristol, 14/10/12
If the critics (and the phone ads) were anything to go by, 2012 was set to be Orlando Higginbottom’s year, even though the Oxford emotive house wunderkind has been in the underground subconscious for more than three years already. A steady string of remixes and EP’s released through Joe Goddard’s “Greco Roman” label since 2009 saw regular play in the Radio 1 nighttime slots, whilst his extravagant live shows built a steady, deserving hype on and off the dancefloor. The release of “Trouble” earlier this year, a strong debut album that was well received all round, harked back to the parts of 90’s house worth remembering, yet possessed enough originality to bear relevance with the arguably fickle dance audience of today. T.E.E.D’s recently enhanced live show made him a must see act on the festival circuit this year, and it was a pleasure to see this energy transferred to Bristol’s O2 Academy for the fifth night of his UK tour.
With the primarily student crowd happy to pay £7.50 for a drink, and most dressed in their finest club attire, it was clear it wasn’t going to take much to win them over. It was the euphorically distorted opening synths of past single ‘Trouble’ that set the precedent for the rest of the night, prompting the first of many hands in the air moments, as the impassioned vocals adorned the Hot Chip-esque calypso keys of the chorus. This high intensity carried through the set as Higginbottom, in his trademark dinosaur costume danced behind a wall of keyboards not too dissimilar to a console of a spaceship, mixing tracks both old and new effortlessly. Pre-album cuts like ‘Bournemouth’ were given a new lease of life when played amongst recent, more lyrically tender tracks, providing a refreshing sense of disparity, which is usually lost on acts with only one album to their name.
A superb light show and dancers with numerous costume changes complimented the musical interludes perfectly, and the intermittent showering of the audience with streamers reinforced the celebratory atmosphere that gilds T.E.E.D’s signature sound. Unsurprisingly the singles received the best reception from the crowd, instigating mass sing-alongs from a rapturous audience for ‘Garden’ and ‘Your Love’. Unfortunately the enthusiasm of the crowd didn’t carry through the whole set, as certain album tracks prompted a flurry of trips to the bar and loud talking. However this is more the fault of the blasé crowd over the artist, as members of the audience who knew the tracks remained attentive throughout. This nonchalance towards the unknown became the most aggravating towards the end as Orlando’s attempt at serenity to end the set was lost on an audience taking pictures of themselves for Facebook.
It is clear that years of playing has given T.E.E.D a natural elegance to his live show and stage presence, knowing how to work a room in the vital moments. This was most evident in the encore of Household Goods, which gave the crowd one last chance to erupt as a blanket of bass and synth covered the floor blissfully. In just under 90 minutes Orlando Higginbottom rekindled the festival spirit that dwindled in Autumn’s unpredictable weather, which isn’t bad for Bristol on a Sunday night.