Back in 2021, in the midst of lockdown, Dutch band De Staat started to think differently. After six albums and a moderate level of success – helped by viral hit Witch Doctor in particular – attention turned to releasing songs attributed to colours as states of mind. Red for the dark side, yellow for the lighthearted ones, and blue for the melancholy. And so came a stream of songs over a couple of years, followed by an excellent fifteen song collection of all of them last year.
/Date /12-Jan 2024
/Venue /Oslo /London E8
It was perhaps inevitable that gigs would follow, and after a tentative step last year with three shows at one festival, a short tour was announced for 2024, starting in London. Now, if I was still living in London, I’d have happily done all three, but as I don’t, I had to pick one: and red was the choice.
I was not wrong in my thinking.
The support, too, was well chosen. The marvellously-named CLT DRP (yes, it’s pronounced Clit Drip, as vocalist Annie confirmed on stage) were a thirty-minute whirlwind of sex-and-queer-positive electro-dance-punk songs, with frank, catchy lyrics and an infectious energy that won over the crowd in minutes. I will looking out for them playing locally again, that’s for sure.
/Setlist /De Staat
Look at Me
Ah, I See
Life Is a Game (Ladadi Ladadada)
Kill the Man
Old Macdonald Don’t Have No Farm No More
Burning the Flag
Make Way for the Passenger
I’ll Take You
Meet the Devil
Head on the Block
Remarkably, it’s fifteen or sixteen years since I last saw De Staat – I first saw them with dEUS back in 2008 – and the band have evolved a lot since then. But maybe the signs of what they’d become were there all the long: this set picked songs from across their discography that would fit into the “red” concept, as far back as the jittery Kill The Man and even the lengthy groove of Meet the Devil (apparently the first time they’d played it in twelve years).
Other older songs were also enormous fun: the taut, rabble-rousing post-punk of Ah, I See got the entire crowd bouncing and roaring along from the off, and the similarly jagged moves of Help Yourself saw a lot of crowd participation too.
Those Red songs (we got four of the five, Some Body – the weakest of the five – omitted) were all glorious, particularly the ripping, bass-heavy charge of Paying Attention.
I had feared that we might have a crowd simply there for a couple of inevitable set-closers, but happily it wasn’t the case at all: although that said, the roof did nearly come off once Torre began to wind up Witch Doctor. Live it really is as sensational as the various footage of it online suggests, with Torre as some kind of crazed ringleader, leading the entire crowd – and I mean everyone in the venue on a merry dance.
I might have thought that would be it – I mean, how the hell do you follow that? – but as it turned out, the wild spiralling electronic stomp of Kitty Kitty was just the ticket. Even so, I’m still humming the refrain to Witch Doctor the next day.
An absolutely fantastic show, full of life, energy and humour, and I only wish I could be there tonight and tomorrow as well.