Originally published on October 17, 2011
Datarock w/ Anoraak :: 10.07.11 :: Mezzanine :: San Francisco, CA
Sunset Promotions put together a solid night of Euro dance-rock at Mezzanine, drawing a crowd eager to witness the return of ultra-arrogant Norwegian funk rockers Datarock to San Francisco. Clad in matching hooded tracksuits, Datarock worked the audience into a sweat as they played their laptop infused rock music with occasional saxophone solos. It was a night of pure fun that was continually fueled by the endless energy and crazy antics of Datarock.
|Anoraak @ Mezzanine by Annelise Poda|
French electropop band Anoraak delivered a solid opening performance for their first-ever show in the United States. They layered harmonious guitar chords over sporadic loops of synthesizer notes and continuous drum rhythms, which came together to create lively, danceable songs. The guitarist added smooth and mellow vocal parts into the mix, which gave them a sound similar to their fellow countrymen in Phoenix crossed with Australia’s Miami Horror. One player fluidly switched from playing bass guitar to synth parts on his keyboard. The three-piece group occasionally extended their songs into longer instrumental compositions, and these were the best moments of their set. Their closing song progressed into a grooving jam as the lead singer jumped onto a secondary synthesizer while keeping the beat on a tambourine, creating a very rhythm-heavy mash of sounds that the audience was most excited for. This first US show for Anoraak went exceptionally well, and I’m sure that they will have continued success with future concerts in the States.
|Datarock @ Mezzanine by Annelise Poda|
The crowd had already gathered back at the stage before the intermission was over in anticipation of Datarock’s set. While the band definitely has a following in the States, they are indisputably THE rock stars of Norway. One of my favorite things about the group is that they act like rock stars wherever they are, and it was obvious from the get-go that their set would be a wild time. “Life is a Musical” started playing over the PA system, and the crowd cheered loudly as the group swaggered out with instruments in hand. All four of them wore matching red tracksuits with extra dark sunglasses, and they proceeded to deliver a night of ultimate hard rocking dance music to the Mezzanine.
Datarock has often been compared to the Talking Heads because of lead singer Fredrik Saroea’s singing style. In response to this observation, the band composed a tribute to David Byrne and the rest of the group by writing “True Stories”. The lyrics are comprised of different titles of Talking Heads songs, which I thought was a creative idea. The band also played many new tracks off their 2011 release California, which they prefaced by saying they were glad to be back in the state that was their EP’s namesake. The most notable selection from the EP was “Roller Coaster,” an upbeat song with great driving vocals that got the crowd pumped up for the rest of the set.
|Datarock @ Mezzanine by Annelise Poda|
Not surprisingly, the best songs of Datarock’s performance were their most well known singles. “Fa Fa Fa” was my favorite track of the night, and made it impossible to stand still. Everyone gave their best vocal effort and chanted “fa fa fa” along with the continuous bass line backbone of the track that the supercharged vocals and funk guitar riffs built upon. The next song, “Computer Camp Love,” was dedicated to Steve Jobs, which was a very nice gesture on their part. Datarock’s music has been featured in an iPod commercial before, and their name is derived from the Norwegian word for ‘computer’ (datamaskin), so they do have a moderate affiliation and affection for Jobs and technology in general. They played “I Used to Dance With My Daddy” next, and it was another song with great energy. Kjetil Møster, who had been switching between instruments throughout the show, busted out a self-proclaimed “sexy saxophone solo” that was a big crowd pleaser. He belted out jazzy notes into the faces of the hyped-up people in the first rows, and then proceeded to jump out over them to crowd surf.
Datarock’s grand finale was one of the most entertaining endings I’ve seen at a show. The band members switched up instruments, with Saroea taking over as percussionist as the vibrantly tattooed drummer Tarjei Strøm went through and introduced his bandmates to the crowd. One notable fact: while he was talking, I couldn’t help but notice the brand name on his boxer waistband – instead of reading “Calvin Klein” or some other familiar American underwear company his read “Bjorn Borg,” which made me immediately curious as to whether they were available online. After the introductions, they hit play on their laptop so that “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life,” the signature song from the movie Dirty Dancing, came over the speakers. They all grabbed a mic to host a high school prom karaoke sing-along that the audience was fully into. The lyrics were a perfect encapsulation of how both the band and attendees had enjoyed a great night of partying. Everyone was happy that Datarock made the trip over from Norway to rock the Bay Area, and it’s a good guess that sales of Bjorn Borg boxer briefs will go through the roof in the U.S. after their next few tour dates in the States.