Two people, four fingers

Breaking my backlog sequence here to report on tonight’s To Rococo Rot gig. It was in Dalston, so naturally the fun began in the queue. While we waited, someone was handing out flyers. The couple in front of me declined, the lady saying

I’m trying to cut down on flyers,

apparently on the grounds of information redundancy and freshness/staleness. Whatever the Guardian says, there were still Beards and Moustaches. Someone whom I predicted to be one of the band stood in the road and took a picture of the queue, using his tablet. An unexpected visual preference was expressed behind me:

I normally want to see Tim’s photos, but this time I can’t wait to see the official ones.

Meanwhile someone’s water bottle was from Fiji.

While I’d been to Café Oto before and walked past it a number of times, for instance when watching Tim Key at the Arcola Theatre around the corner, I’d never actually seen a band play there. There were two areas with seats on either flank, with standing all around and in between, and I was there early enough to occupy a chair, like a middle-aged person.

The support act was Standard Planets, comprising a singing drummer, guitarist/vocalist/electronics man and bassist. The drummer grinned when he made a small mistake during one of his singing songs. Their last one was their best, I thought, with its strong arpeggiated ending. The young boy in the family on the row in front of me played games on his tablet throughout, unconcerned by the music. I don’t think we can take that as a comment.

To Rococo Rot started pretty much on time, which is notable, I think. Again a non-standard lineup – drummer, bassist and electronics. Robert Lippok (the latter) had a microphone, for announcements rather than any vocals. He explained that they chose their name because they liked the idea of things rotting towards the rococo state, and that it was pleasing to play at Café Oto, which was also a palindrome…

If I press the right button, the show starts,

he said. He had a Tenori-On, an Ableton Push and what I eventually realised was an upside down monitor, with a small controller keyboard laying on the top/bottom, plus various effects boxes, atop his rack. (In the Old Days, we would always try to work out what gear bands were using – a little less interesting as a pastime now, when often it’s just a laptop). As always (at least for values of ‘always’ including the past 18 months) I didn’t know the songs. I think I last saw them in Manchester, probably 9 or 10 years ago, and haven’t heard much of them since then. During what was probably their best song, the electronics man and the bassist wandered over to the grand piano to the left of the stage and started playing along, each of them contributing two fingers, as we found out later.

It was quite democratic,

said the bassist, though his colleague thought it unequal, owing to the greater power of the low notes:

It was democratic, but shifted.

The bass player (Stefan Schneider) didn’t seem to have any effects pedals, which is extremely unusual. I suppose his style is quite different than the norm, too, fitting in as it does with the chittering throbs and the live drums. The drummer (Ronald Lippok) was super energetic, with some good gurns. Exuberant, in a very controlled way. He couldn’t keep still in the pauses between songs, playing the hi-hat and the cymbals, and he was not flustered when he dropped one of his sticks. The electronics man was quite vigorous with his Tenori-On and the Push pad. Right at the end he picked up his monitor and placed it on its side, so the audience could see what he’d been watching, including the small segment of audio, looping very quickly. He did this for each part of the crowd, fulfilling its tangible curiosity. Of course, the mother in the family I mentioned before held up her tablet at this point, as she’d done quite a lot, the better to take some footage, and the better to obstruct the view of the people standing behind her. Tsk. I think this shows the inherent selfishness of the tablet. Yes.

The songs were all very good, and I even bought the album at the end. It feels much more virtuous to buy albums at gigs, avoiding the record company 10% types. Sad to say, I couldn’t pay extra for the vinyl, because I don’t at present have a turntable. Auto-tsk. The people next to me had been using the record they’d bought during the gap between bands as a cooling fan.

They’re playing again tomorrow (Tuesday), at Rough Trade East. I’m seeing Simon Munnery then, meaning I can’t see them again.



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