The glitterball completes a lonely rotation at the Lido, its seems an inauspicious sign. The venue is slow to fill tonight, the audience camped at the edge of the floor are sitting, preoccupied with the bar. Perhaps, for once, we were early. My bag wasn’t checked for exclamation marks.
Humanzi, originally from Dublin but now here in Berlin are playing their first gig for six months but any misgivings about this be an ill-attended night are dispelled quickly as two thirds of You Say party! We say die! station themselves at the front and cheer on their support as the room begins to fill up at an alarming rate.
Humanzi are Shaun Mulrooney, guitar and vocals, Colm Rutledge, guitar and vocals, Gary Lonergan and Brian Gallagher, drums & vocals. Power-pop, garage punkers – a band more used to headlining at White Trash or Wild at Heart. They sound like the Black Keys in a gang fight with the The Black Rebel Motorcycle Club but with a distinctly Irish sneer of smarts and songwriting
The double guitar threat presented by Shaun Mulrooney and Rutledge is augmented by Gary Lonergan’s Rickenbacker. Mulrooney’s vocals and stage presence are strictly of the “take no prisoners” variety.
Swapping his Tele’ for a Jazzmaster, Mulrooney leaps in to the air and rips into This is the shit, get used to it over impressive squalls of feedback from Rutledge’s S.G. Despite, or perhaps because of, the fact that this is the band’s first gig for six months, they seem hungry – ready for it.
For a “song about the end of the world,” Short Term, Mulrooney produces a megaphone but has to discard it when it doesn’t work. Courting the camcorder following his performance he struts and star jumps his way through a set that veers from reckless rock and roll to something yet more vehement. The set concluded with a rapturous cover of Totally Wired as Devon, YouSayParty!WeSayDie!’s drummer waived his fists in the air and the now packed floor of this old Berlin dancehall erupted.
It would take a brave band to follow them and YouSayParty!WeSayDie! are that brave, or maybe that foolish. It might seem a bit of a sudden head wrench to get from garage punk to hot-chipped, synth beat but after an interval, they achieved it. A kind of ‘changing of the guard’, occurred in the audience and Dayglo managed somehow to assert itself.
Their energy level was relentless, Stephen O’Shea bounding from one side of the stage to the other waiving his bass aloft, as Devon stoked it up on the drums and Krista Loewen laid down slightly hoky, almost fairground, synth riffs. Becky Rinkovic pulled energy from the air for a vocal performance that ranged from occasional sweet fragility to Karen O’s slightly daft sister messing with the karaoke machine.
Songs like Teeny hip wonder and Downtown mayors goodnight. Alley kids rule, demonstrate both a clear “art school” sensibility as well as a way with words that has only been heard occasionally since The Moldy Peaches. You can imagine that Harmony Corrine would dig this. Smart, suburban, optimistic and fizzing with Tartrazine. It was impossible not to like the funked up juggernaut, customised with cheap go-faster stripes, that is their sound, even if some of the clothing seemed occasionally borrowed from the Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs.
This is You Say Party! We Say Die’s fourth trip to Germany. Each time the audiences have got bigger. The Lido holds a special place in their hearts as it was where they played their first gig in a city that clearly loves them.
Announcing Poison as the most “metal” of their material, thunder was threatened but fragmented instead into a keyboard that sounded occasionally like a broken hurdy gurdy. Blips and glitches are never far from the surface but Devon’s solid playing anchors the whole thing and the constant fast interplay between a band clearly having fun, prevented it from ever becoming self-indulgent. This is party music and given the choice between analysis and dance. Dance wins.
The first of the encores was He! She! You! Me! They! We! Us! OK! and the band produced a sound resembling The Bush Tetras and LeTigre playing at the birthday party of a brattish gang of six year olds, starved of everything other than chemical confectionary and issued with magic markers.
For their second encore, Go Under, after a long set – the band swapped instruments. Krista Loewen emerged a little shyly from behind her keyboard to share the vocal with Rinkovic, harmonising over a constantly busy rhythm until finally the song resolved itself into just the two of them.
Afterwards, Stephen O’Shea, loitering in the corridor in a black hoody, asked me if I had enjoyed it.
I was lost for words.
The new album, Lose all time, is available, in Germany, from PIAS in August.