DATE: Wednesday 6th February 2019
VENUE: The Bodega in Nottingham, UK
Review & Photography by Mark Holmes
Gracing UK shores for a string of shows as part of their Outrageous Contagious European tour, musically demented Dutch crew De Staat find themselves in Nottingham early February, in a rammed 220 capacity Bodega. Quite the contrast from their gig in Norwich the previous night, for which I gather only 40 punters showed up. And the 200+ enthusiastic peeps make themselves heard when Torre Florim and his sonically idiosyncratic brethren take to the stage at 8:45pm, greeted as they are by loud, delirious cheers.
Opening with ‘Me Time’, a track from their recently released full-length studio offering, ‘Bubble Gum’, an album I described as an “invigoratingly unhinged aural experience” elsewhere on these pages, it’s immediately obvious that De Staat live is as invigorating and aurally unhinged an experience as their records. The emotional immediacy of their recorded art is brought to life in the most exhilarating of ways on the Bodega’s stage this evening. There’s a heightened immediacy to everything, and the crowd reciprocate with a bouncy vitality of their own. This is the sheer essence of what a buoyant live experience should be, with both band and audience locked in a bubble of mutual merriment.
The party continues with ‘Machinery’ track, ‘Psycho Disco’, before they turn, once again, to their latest material for an airing of ‘Mona Lisa’. They dip into ‘I_Con’ next, for a rousing rendition of ‘Input Select Source’, before hitting the Bodega assemblage with ‘Peptalk’ from their 2016 album, ‘O’. Everyone present has been lapping up each bar of music with ardent glee, but it seems the latter track is something of a fan favourite, as the crowd’s enthusiasm is discernibly ramped up a notch.
‘All is Dull’ is up next, before the pervasively dark tones for the intro to ‘Phoenix’ brings the unrelenting tempo of the evening down for the slower paced ‘Bubble Gum’ composition, which sounds every bit as epic live as it does recorded. And Florim’s voice has a lot of breathing space on this track to showcase the impressive range of his singing, from tonality to emotional timbre.
‘Make the Call, Leave It All’ gets punters dancing once again before Rocco Hueting ventures from behind his keys for a duet, of sorts, with Florim, in the form of ‘Pikachu’, the band’s critique of the way people use social media… or Instagram, to be precise. And their choreographed presentation of the track emphasises its already sinister inherence, as both men glance at each other and the audience with an array of mischievous gazes.
‘Fake It Till You Make It’ and ‘Get on Screen’ follow, before the intensity is cranked up for the vocally majestic and rhythmically infectious ‘Witch Doctor’. With a curfew of 10pm fast approaching, we’re then into encore territory, for which we’re treated to the second ‘Machinery’ track of the night, ‘Sweat Shop’, and the final piece of the evening, ‘Kitty Kitty’, their take on the inanity and insanity of Trump, that orange-drenched fascist with the world’s most elaborate comb-over/potential wig.
The unclassifiable and unpredictable nature of De Staat’s music is what’s always made the band such a refreshingly stimulating listen. And, after tonight, I have to say that this makes even more sense in a live context. Each and every song feels fresh and different and, with all these contrasting pieces side by side, it highlights the diversity of their compositions across the years and five albums to date. All of which not only showcases the originality and musical innovation for which they've become known and adored, but transcends genre in one of the most invigorating live experiences I've ever had the pleasure of witnessing. And for those of you who still want to classify it? How about, simply, “fucking great music”. And, man, what a great fucking experience their live show has proven to be.
Click on thumbnails for larger images:
De Staat at The Bodega in Nottingham, UK, 6th February 2019
Photograph copyright © 2019 Mark Holmes - www.metal-discovery.com