Last Night: The Notwist at Bimbo's
October 27, 2008
Review By Ashley Harrell, Photos by Jeff Grossman
A hypothermic lethargy seemed to have snuck into Bimbo’s last night behind the bundled-up fans of the Notwist. Even those running late nonchalantly retrieved tickets, got hand-stamped, meandered through the elegant bar – snatching whiskey if they pleased – and headed toward the stage, where five German men who all seemed to have something against hair maintenance fingered guitars and keyboards over skittering, synth beats. The venue was body-heat crowded, but not sold out.
The Notwist’s music is contemplative and ideal for headphone listening in transit, so it’s not surprising that most of the audience seemed to be put into a kind of trance. The songs bled into each other, only occasionally punctuated by stage banter – if you could call it banter – which didn’t exactly snap anyone out of it. “We are very happy because we met our good friend Dex,” announced lead singer Markus Acher, after a few opening songs. “He’s the nicest person in the world.”
The next set of songs were accompanied by sugary xylophone and plenty of colored spotlights, prompting one presumably stoned audience member to comment that the yellow and red hues swirled together was a strawberry banana smoothie. The fan watched with interest as the band’s programmer, who refers to himself as “Console,” waved what looked like two Wii controllers in the air, conducting his invisible, electronic orchestra. The frenetic beats seemed to scamper off the stage, compelling a few audience members to dance.
A tall guy in a baseball cap covered in crossword puzzle designs began to sway, and across the room, another guy wearing socks as gloves and his pixie-like girlfriend began to jump. They continued to jump for nearly the entire rest of the show in an amazing display of calf muscle endurance. It looked pretty fun, but for some reason, nobody else felt much like jumping. Or if they did, they kept it a secret.
Eventually, the band got around to playing "Pilot," a song off of Neon Golden, a 2002 breakout album in the states. Heads bobbled to the beat, and the couple jumped harder. By the time they had gone through “Where in this World,” “Sleep” and a few more selections from their most recent album, The Devil, You + Me, released just this year, Acher seemed ready to call it quits. “Just two more,” he told the audience. Did these guys really come all the way from Germany to play for 45 minutes?
No way, and the audience knew it. After less than a minute of demanding applause before the empty stage, the Notwist returned with coke-binge energy, and played an encore almost as long as their set. It included “Consequence,” the song you’d recognized from the preview of Shopgirl (terrible movie, by the way), and “One with the Freaks,” which are two of my favorite songs from Neon Golden, probably because I listened to them on repeat on the Eurail one summer. All things considered, the show was pretty good, but I have to say those train rides were better.