Desperate Late Night Energy, a collaboration between Electronica/dance-pop artist Boycrush (producer and songwriter Alistair Deverick) and Dance Plant Collective, is what you would get if you started a really good club in an Olympic standard swimming complex. It is overwhelmingly aesthetic, with ultramodern contemporary dance and superb live music brought together through an absolute clarity of vision.
The costuming for the dancers is sublime, resulting in a visually delicious show. It is striking and functional, from the sapphire blue unitards (that change depth of hue according to which lighting state they are under) to the nude bra and brief set styled with a blue swimming cap and goggles. The goggles are even incorporated into one routine in an amusing yet organic way. The lighting, designed by Suren Unka, enhances movement sequences with strobe or reflects off the costume fabrics producing exciting colour effects. Last night even the band had been dressed for best effect. Dreamy singer Carla Camilleri (vocals) was in a wine-red dress, Deverick in a matching red tee-shirt and black pants, and Tom Young (vocals and guitar) all in black but toting a red lacquered guitar.
The visual spectacle is rooted in the expressive and consuming soundscapes of Boycrush’s latest album Desperate Late Night Energy. The album conveys the bubbling indecision felt when you reach the end of an evening and not quite enough has happened to leave you satisfied. The music is shimmery with hints of enjoyable melancholy and always driven by a sensibility of rhythm that only a percussionist possesses: Deverick is also a drummer who plays with The Ruby Suns and has played with the likes of Neil Finn and Lawrence Arabia. Boycrush is not just excellent music, however, but a whole immersive aesthetic.
The swimming theme which runs through the performance arises naturally from the track ‘Holy Water’. A music video for this track was released in early 2018 and featured members of The New Zealand Dance Company performing in the same blue swimming caps and goggles as seen in the stage show. Echoes of the choreography seen in this video appear in the Dance Plant Collective’s performance.
The Dance Plant Collective’s choreography for Desperate Late Night Energy is riotously enjoyable. Each member (Tui Hofmann, Brittany Kohler, Natasha Kohler, Bella Wilson, Jaz Yahel) brings life and colour to the performance, which combines their technical skills with playfulness. Not only do they manipulate their bodies in delightful and compelling ways, often to emulate swimming, but they allow their faces to be incredibly expressive each individually seeming to respond to the pull of the music and lyrics. Especially worth mentioning is when the group lip-syncs to lines of a songs, creating instant narratives binding the dancers and the band together.
So often there is a competition for the audience’s attention between a live band and the performers on stage but Desperate Late Night Energy turns this competition into a duet. At one point in the evening Carla Camilleri is brought to centre stage to sing while the routine proceeds around her. She responds soulfully to the dance as much as the dancers respond to the music.
Desperate Late Night Energy is the show I have been waiting for –sexy, muscled, bass-filled synchronised swimming.
Desperate Late Night Energy plays Basement Theatre until 3 March.