Last Friday night DC was treated to a very special, one-off, U.S. headlining gig by the new stars of the British dance music scene, Delphic. This singular opportunity to catch one of the UK’s hottest bands was hosted at the unlikely venue of DC9 thanks to the savvy programming of Liberation Dance Party. Those in the know about these kinds of things were totally freaking out at this random chance to see Delphic perform in one of DC’s most intimate spaces. At home and in the rest of Europe, Delphic have already risen to festival main-stage status; but for the Eyjafjallajokull Icelandic volcano preventing them from making their Coachella Music Festival U.S. debut last Spring, they probably would be well on their way to playing large venues stateside as well. Their mind-blowing performance at DC9 on Friday proved that they are more than ready too.
I was at Coachella this year and was fully expecting to start my Sunday by watching Delphic explode onto the U.S. music scene on the second outdoor stage. I had been tracking Delphic ever since their initial song ‘Counterpoint’ leaked, was thrilled with their debut album “Acolyte”, and was expecting them to make a large scale U.S. debut at Coachella (much like Muse did in 2004). That volcano changed everything. There I was standing in the desert, my heart sinking, as I read the amended band listings posted on a big signpost. Delphic, along with many other European acts, were grounded by volcanic ash and would not play the festival. This was a major disappointment.
Thankfully, Delphic’s debut has recovered somewhat as they are touring as the opening act for The Temper Trap (an inverted line-up if I ever heard of one!). Thanks to The Temper Trap being booked at ACL last weekend, Delphic’s schedule was freed up just long enough for them to sneak down to DC and put on a fantastic concert.
Delphic performed to an nearly packed DC9 and ripped through a seven song set that slightly re-sequenced most of the tracks from their debut album, “Acolyte”. The set was a perfect blend of electronic gear, pre-recorded sequencing, and live instrumentation. Delphic are often hailed as the second coming of New Order; a valid comparison on paper but one that begins to fall apart a bit upon seeing Delphic live. Their breathless, high-energy delivery owed more to the sweaty Madchester rave scene than icy New Wave danceteria. The live focus was to get bodies moving first and feeling something second. Dreamy vocals served more as extra sounds in their technological swirl than as focal points. Delphic played extended and revved up versions of each song including a couple of truly monster dance jams: ‘Acolyte’ and ‘Counterpoint’.
The crowd at Liberation Dance Party was a great mix of early Delphic converts and the dance-curious. The dancing began from the first spare guitar-line of ‘Clarion Call’ and kept going for the entire set. I was really happy to see DC produce such a great, energetic welcome for Delphic. Hopefully the reception Delphic received at DC9 will get them to return to DC when they get around to organizing their proper U.S. headline tour.
The more I reflect on this show, the more obvious the insanity of seeing Delphic at DC9 becomes. They are a band with a huge sound and if they play their cards right are destined to become a huge stars. Long ago, when Muse was first trying out the U.S. market I had tickets to see them play at a similar small venue called the Kyber in Philadelphia. They canceled that show due to illness or something. I have since enjoyed watching Muse become one of the biggest and best live bands on the planet. My thoughts often go to that canceled small club show and I think about how amazing it would have been had it actually occurred. Delphic’s show at DC9 last Friday night, watching them jam their massive sound into that tiny venue, had the monumental feeling that I always imagined that the canceled Muse show would have had. Delphic have got the goods and I cannot wait to see where go from here.