A double bill can be many things. It can be two things related but different coming together for a night show. It can be two unrelated things that sort of make sense so they are slapped together. Or it can be as it was Wednesday night at the Fonda Theatre: two opposite ends of the spectrum coming together to tell a story.

Now, you’re probably wondering what I smoked that night. Tank and the Bangas + Django Django = Something? Yes, I say! I see the pattern and it looks like wave forms and poetry in motion. These are two very different musical acts. One is a soul, rap, broadway, rock, performance, beat poetry, all around bad ass lady from New Orleans who commands the stage like a priestess to an Futurist region regaling her crowd. The other, four British and Irish guys who met at art school and have an interest in projections, lights and repeating synth motifs, percussion and whooping, who immerse the audience in a performance of light and shadows.

But the connection is a straight shot in my mind, it’s their use of rhythm. Both Tank and the Bangas and Django Django will often times play with rhythm, sliding to and from different speeds in way that create a tapestry of sound. Or you know, they are both playing Coachella and the surrounds … so why not have them perform on the same night at the Fonda?

Tank and her Bangas on stage created a world through presence alone and was quite a conceptual act the way that they arranged the music. A cobalt blue poncho covered Tank so when she reached her arms towards the audience to embrace them from above, it looked as though and was a leader of mystical thought. Her facial expressions told their own story, each one remarkable and over the top in a way that never felt out of place. She is expressionism in motion, bouncing around the stage, shifting her voice from cutesy, to soulful, to poetic and beyond. High energy hits pumped up the crowd who had been given paper fans in order to wave towards their then master.

She commanded the audience, at one point asking, nay, demanding the audience to “encourage my horn” – don’t panic, no rhinos were harmed, it was in reference to her saxophonist (and also flutist!) who wore incredibly tight shorts and seemed to blow to Tank’s liking. But mid-way through the set, the music became stripped back and suddenly all her insecurities were laid out on the stage. Singing about love, loss, confusion and beauty, it was as if we were watching a broadway show and out heroine had come out to stage left to sing a ballad about an unrequited love. By the end of this set, with high energy back, the entire band lay on the ground, seemingly ready to call it a night. But then, the guitarist began rocking out to Nirvana and everyone else joined in. It was wild, and so much fun.

Django Django, who I reviewed the last time they were in LA three years ago, are really as fun and energetic as ever. They are big on the festival circuit, playing big outdoor festivals all the time. And this set that they played at the Fonda felt a lot like that. It was big and full of motion, heavy drums taking over from synths and vice versa. Echoing guitars giving texture to the melodic harmonies of the ahhing vocals, resonating almost always as if in some kind of canyon or cave. Their music is also incredibly British Islesy. There’s always an interesting mix of visceral drums, futurist drums and good ol’ fashioned Brit pop guitar play.

And all of this is made into an immersive installation, as projections show behind them floating sculptures, marble skies, metal waves and hands posed in circles in space. It was interesting to see how they use their music to make these textures have deeper meaning and vice versa. They relate to the rhythm of the piece, creating a dialogue between the two.

More info:

Django Django
Tank and The Bangas