On stage at XOYO, German electro-punks Digitalism are craned over a pair of synths, blasting out a variety of bloops and bleeps varied enough to make R2-D2's electronic vocabulary sound passé. Layering these glitchy oddities over muddy, distorted basslines and pounding drum beats, theirs is an infectious, head-nodding brand of electro which forces toes to tap; the biggest problem with their show tonight is how rarely this digitised witches' brew all comes together.
Battling against a seemingly interminable number of technical problems, the duo admirably manage to turn what could easily have been a catastrophic gig into a solid one. Jens Moelle leaps between keyboards and a standalone mic, blasting out party-anthem lyrics tailor-made for this underground, confined setting, while Ismail Tufekci, standing over his own array of electronic adornments, repeatedly implores the crowd to rally behind the band during old favourites like "I Want I Want" and "Anything New". The band does manage to get the crowd back on-side, and delivers a brilliant, cacophonous finale which they've earned the right to enjoy.
However, the problems which plague much of the set are not all simply down to technical errors. Although watching Moelle repeatedly call on the group's equipment tech is hugely frustrating – and saps the energy from the room – there are other problems too.
The set-list itself, while containing enough old material to sate ardent fans and enough new stuff to whet the appetite for the group's upcoming sophomore record, is oddly structured; we get a batch of crowd-pleasers, then an unbroken run of new tracks, before returning to old ground in the closing stages. It's an odd decision: the new album is not out yet, so no one knows the songs and the mood noticeably sags. The combination of a surprisingly lethargic crowd and the aforementioned obstacles seems to affect the duo, and for a couple of tracks they cut increasingly frustrated figures.
It's a testament to Digitalism's resolve, and the strength of their material, that they turn it around, not only with a fantastic rendition of "Blitz", but with a marvellous encore which ensures all parties leave satisfied. But it's tough not to consider how good this show might've been under different circumstances.Reuse content