Show Review: Datarock with Dirty Ghosts and Baertur at Bottom Of The Hill, 3/10/2011

by Jonathan Pirro on March 11, 2011

All the way from Norway - just to play for you

All the way from Norway - just to play for you

One constant source of confusion at concerts is what one should be doing as an idle member of the audience. For certain shows, there exists a code of conduct exclusively based on the genre of music, with little room for deviation: headbanging in heavy metal mosh  pits, dancing at hip-hop concerts, and standing awkwardly with arms crossed and a faint look of aloof interest, if one is attending an indie-rock show. Dance-rock shows are, therefore, perplexing to the crowd that cannot decide whether it should be dancing, rocking out, or somehow doing both. At a Datarock show, this confusion is overturned in the form of one simple rule: follow the band onstage, listen to what they say, and remain airborne for the duration of the performance.

Allyson Baker of Dirty Ghosts

Allyson Baker of Dirty Ghosts

Though Datarock’s name and sound definitely draws from many danceable and electronic elements, the first opening act, the Norwegian duo Baertur, was the only other group that night to bring pulsing techno to the small walls of San Francisco’s tiny Bottom of the Hill nightclub. Baertur’s performance was a simple setup led by Ketil Mosnes, one half of the duo that spearheads Datarock, with only a laptop and a tinfoil-covered guitarist serving as the physical instruments onstage that created a thundering house beat with waves of frantic distortion. The San Francisco quartet of Dirty Ghosts brought the evening’s energy up a few notches, giving the crowd a rock-solid performance with elements of death rock and lo-fi garage punk within an explosive half-hour set.

Fredrik Saroea and Adrian Meehan of Datarock

Fredrik Saroea and Adrian Meehan of Datarock

Those who might have been slightly confused about how to react to Datarock were educated within moments of the four red soldiers from Norway marching onto the stage. Anyone in the audience who was not crooning along with singer Fredrik Saroea, thrashing about wildly in response to drummed Adrian Meehan, or swaying back and forth in mimicry of bassist Thomas Larssen or saxophonist Kjetil Møster, was airborne from beat to beat. While the opening number “Computer Camp Love” brought a second wind to the late hour of the performance, the following song, “Sex Me Up”, brought the rest of the Bottom of the Hill off its feet and into the sky.

Datarock with added saxophone!

Datarock with added saxophone!

The set was split into sections, with Datarock playing songs from their debut record, Datarock Datarock, to start the show, and following with a few selections from their sophomore effort Red. Splitting the set was the new single “Catcher In The Rye”, which, despite being unreleased, seemed to be known in its entirety by the majority of the dancing fans. The insanely energetic and astonishingly precise drumming of Meehan was matched only by the ferocity of Møster, who bounced effortlessly between saxophone, drum pads, and simply throwing himself into the crowd and dancing wildly with them. For each song, singer Saroea extolled the love and joy that San Francisco brought to the band, and how happy they were be to be back in the city.

It's a guitar face-off!

It's a guitar face-off!

No Datarock show would be complete without an explosive encore, and their debut Bottom of the Hill performance was no exception. The quartet ended their main set with a performance of “Fa Fa Fa” that saw every inch of the nightclub on and off of its feet, with each word of the song being used as an excuse to defy gravity for as long as possible. Between Saroea throwing himself at the edge of the stage for a powerslide-guitar-solo, Møster’s wild saxophone caterwauling, and the entire band joining Meehan for a four-man drum solo, there was no end to the number of reasons for the audience to be in a perpetual state of excitement. To finish the show, Datarock threw off their bright red hoodies and brought the crowd back into the air, clapping their hands wildly in a performance of “I Used To Dance With My Daddy”, with Saroea relieving Meehan of his drumming duties while the latter stood atop one of the stage monitors and introduced the band. The night ended with the Franke and the Knockouts classic “Time Of My Life” ringing through the sound system, as the band ran into the crowd and danced the final moments of the show away.

Adrian introduces the band

Adrian introduces the band

As was mentioned when the night began, a Datarock show is perpetual fun and excitement bottled into the form of four to six red-clad men from Norway, and for Thursday night, the Bottom of the Hill was treated as the perfect place to debut their new material. Having seen them four times myself, I have a bit of a fun bias towards them, and always see how long I can keep dancing while the band is onstage: it is always amazing to watch these men play for nearly an hour and a half and never decrease in their energy and joy. Norway is certainly a long way away, but one can hope that it is not a terribly long time before they travel all that way to come and play for us again.

All photos by Jonathan Pirro.

Jonathan Pirro

Off-kilter multimedia enthusiast.

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