Electronic dance music is so often characterised by intense seriousness; from chin-stroking experimental laptop electronica to drug-friendly house and techno. Orlando Higginbottom’s Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs project provides a much needed injection of genuine fun into dance music, by putting as much care and attention into the theatricality of his live performances as he does into his bittersweet house-pop.
The opportunity to see an artist like T.E.E.D. at a venue as small as the Bullingdon is a rare one, which is made especially exciting by the fact that Oxford is of course Higginbottom’s hometown. Both the poppy, energetic, hook-filled quality of Higginbottom’s bittersweet music and the notorious theatricality of his live shows mean the crowd is made up of young, excitable dance music fans ready to genuinely dance, as opposed to arch, serious music types. The atmosphere at the Bullingdon before the show is one of quiet anticipation, like the calm before the storm, and Higginbottom’s takes to the stage with no fanfare, simply strolling on in his attention grabbing turquoise dinosaur costume. From then on the show is quite unlike any other I’ve ever seen, in a variety of ways. While T.E.E.D’s songs can be described as just that; pop songs as opposed to simply dance music, Higginbottom conjoins all the songs into a continuously flowing monolithic house jam, keeping the crowd dancing at all times.
The spectacle of a T.E.E.D. live show is really what separates this artist from other electronic or dance live shows. Two sequin covered dancers flank Higginbottom and his bank of impressive equipment, staring ahead blankly and throwing impressive, carefully choreographed shapes. They whip the crowd up into an absolutely frenzy, helped considerably by the fact that they fired confetti canons into the audience at key moments in T.E.E.D.’s most well known songs.
The set is made up of both T.E.E.D.’s most recognized songs, and hands in the air instrumental dance euphoria, often blending the two. Songs like the Nokia-approved ‘Garden’ and single ‘Trouble’ are greeted with rapturous reception and frenzied dancing, and soon-to-be hits such as the simplistic, cheesy disco-house track ‘Stronger’ (“I feel my love for you is making me stronger”) bode well for future T.E.E.D. releases. The set finishes with ‘Household Goods’, possibly the most out and out dance song Higginbottom has made. The dancers return, confetti is fired, and the crowd absolutely erupts into a frenzy.
It would be easy to say this warm reception and crazed dancing is a result of Oxford being Higginbottom’s hometown, and therefore generating a lot of goodwill from friends, family and early fans. However, it is clear after tonight that the good will, the dancing, and the crazed response are simply products of the fact that Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs is making some of the most original, exciting electronic music in Britain today.