Beatsteaks at KoKo
It’s 20 years since Beatsteaks formed in the Berlin food markets, and Tuesday night finds them at the end of their celebratory tour, fresh from a run of European festivals including Sziget and Pukkelpop. Only one homecoming date remains at Berlin’s Lollapalooza next month.
Having supported the Sex Pistols in 1996, uninitiated gig-goers might have expected a rough and snarly brand of punk but, as Camden’s Koko fills up with their fellow Germans, it would seem there are very few new fans in the room. Further, the music piped over the crowd as they wait (You Can Call Me Al, for example) hints at a less aggressive gig to come.
Beatsteaks appear on stage to a disco track and vibrant applause, and look like they couldn’t be happier to be in front of this audience. They emanate an easy energy that has clearly been forged over the past two decades, and make the crowd believe they’re in reliable hands. As they open with Hello Joe there’s plenty of singing along and even the pogoing stretches up to the balcony. After the first few surprisingly melodic tracks, the grittier Jane Became Insane – complete with an irresistible “nanana” hook – gets a massive reaction from the very first notes.
The vast majority of songs are in English until about halfway through their hour-and-a-half-long set, when the entire room joins in, arms aloft, for what might well have been the German national anthem for the level of enthusiasm, but is probably more likely to be one of the many cover versions that their wealth of setlists would suggest. Another particularly well-received moment comes when they play a track from 2000’s Launched – a year when most members of the audience would have been in the midst of their teens while the pop/punk/metal music scene enjoyed a level of interest it has perhaps not achieved since. This bubble in time pops up again at a later point when the music turns a bit jump-up-Limp Bizkit, then echoes a Rage Against the Machine feeling, acknowledging history but reining it in before alienating too many who’ve moved on since.
Adored by the crowd and clearly in charge of their brand, Beatsteaks have a good 20 years behind and ahead of them too.
Photos: Adrian Dusman
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