Danananaykroyd are splitting up, if you didn’t already know. In fact, as of this Saturday they will be no more, (we assume) forever. The day we discovered that this band, one of the most interesting and fun collectives making music in the last five years, are no longer willing to continue was a dark one for the music scene indeed. They promised to “go out with a bang”, and well, that they did.
We arrive at Undertone, a tiny venue lurking underneath a bar in central Cardiff with plenty of time to take advantage of the comfy leather sofas they provide. These sofas are around the edges of what is, essentially just a room with a bar at the back, and a stack of speakers at the front - the monitors creating the “stage” space. It already seems a suitably intimate venue, enhanced by the fact that the group of people dancing around on the sofa next to us, are actually the band.
The support act begin playing without any fuss, the acoustics in the room aren’t great, and I’m still none the wiser about what they’re called, despite the fact they did say (if anyone can tell me I’d be very grateful EDIT: they're called Drains). They play a short set of noisy but rhythmic tracks and then that’s that.
Danananaykroyd make their way on stage well, in a way only they could pull off, the two lead singers Calum Gunn and John Bailie Junior hug their way along the front two rows of the crowd, before launching into the first track released from their second album, ‘E Numbers’. It feels a little strange to be standing so close to the band, and as the crowd get more into things the front rows are fighting not to end up the wrong side of the wires and monitors, to varying degrees of success (which is how I’ve ended up with very bruised shins). Calum Gunn and JBJ have always been charismatic front men, and they’re on form tonight, with jokes about knife fights in Glasgow being a more likely sight than fireworks in their distinctive Scottish brouge - and even managing to get the crowd to crouch down on to the floor before diving into ‘Think and Feel’.
The first half of their set is mainly newer songs, the band are clearly at ease playing them, with a lot of wriggly dancing to the beat. It’s when they start some of their older stuff that the crowd really gets into it. With much hand-clapping and roof-slapping (I did say it was a small venue) they work their way through the highlights of ‘Hey Everyone’. The humour evident in their (highly enjoyable) tour videos and irreverent blog posts comes through even on what is a slightly sad occasion, the last time they’ll ever play this city. Guitarist David Roy adds musical backing to the joking around, with an impressive ‘X Factor style’ version of Muscle Memory improvised. This comes about after they say, with mischievous straight faces, that they’re only splitting up so they can go on X-Factor next year under a different name. Waving, they finish on ‘Infinity Milk’, but it’s not long before they’re back. The set up of Undertone doesn’t really allow for tension building as we can see them standing slightly to the right as a chant of “Da - Na - Na - Na - Naa - Kroyd” starts up.
The famous wall of cuddles is not forgotten, and for one final time, JBJ and Calum split the crowd down the middle, egging us on as each singer says “my team always wins”. There’s a palpable irony in their voices, we all know that this is one of the last times they’ll be doing this. The sweet, joyus melody that opens ‘Some Dresses’ is shoved into our already echoing ears, and as it begins to fade out, the hugging goes a little awry and we all end up in a heap on the floor - I’m pulled to my feet by a slightly concerned looking Calum, who checks we’re all okay and the band mill around a little longer, for some more hugs, saying their goodbyes and then that’s it. Goodbye Dananananykroyd.
On a slightly more personal and general note, I can’t think of any other band that I’ve been this genuinely sad to see go. They’ve always been endearingly enthusiastic about what they do, seem to genuinely care for their fans (can you think of many other bands that would take the time to help out and ensure the audience are ok if things get a bit messy?) and it’s with a heavy heart I finish the last thing I’ll ever get to write about them.