The Notwist at the Biltmore Review
Upon seeing their stage setup, I knew that The Notwist were going to give us our ticket’s worth.
Currently touring in support of their eighth and latest album, Close To The Glass, it seemed like they had brought their entire studio with them from Germany. Visible were least five synths and sequencers, a turntable with a stack of records piled on top, an extensive percussion section. And Wii remotes. The Wii remotes had me intrigued. I took a seat on the PA, full of anticipation for the glitchy indie rock that was soon to follow.
First up was opener Jel, a producer based out of Oakland currently touring solo with The Notwist. His fingers danced across his sequencers and drum machines for about thirty minutes, with him laying down the occasional rap over top. His songs, which covered topics such as “eating breakfast all day” and “Scrooge McDuck’s monocle” had some toes tapping, though the crowd wasn’t really feeling his beats.
Following the brief intermission, The Notwist quietly took the stage. After a moment of complete silence, lead singer Marckus Acher walked up to the microphone and let out a soft, accent-heavy “Hello,” before breaking into “They Follow Me,” the closing track off of Close To The Glass. Things then came alive with the jittery drum beats of the album’s title track and its single “Kong.”
The Notwist isn’t a band that sacrifices sonic detail in the live setting; every click, clap, bleep, or yelp that can be heard on their studio recordings is present when they are on stage as well. For the next ninety minutes, The Notwist filled the Biltmore with their unique blend of electronica and indie rock. Several songs were expanded into breakdowns of their off-kilter dance beats, which had most of the audience dancing like Thom Yorke in the “Lotus Flower” music video. The band lost themselves in their music, their facial expressions alternating between looks of intense concentration and gentle satisfaction. On several occasions Marckus Acher opened his eyes and looked out at the crowd, happy to see that we were enjoying their music as much as he was, sometimes giving an appreciative “thank you.”
The set was comprised of songs off their past three albums, Close To The Glass, The Devil + You + Me, and Neon Golden, respectively. Neon Golden, one of the best albums of the 2000’s, garnered the most applause from the audience, especially with tracks “One With The Freaks” and “Pick Up The Phone.” Their encore was three more songs from their landmark album: “Neon Golden,” “Pilot,” and their most well-known song, “Consequence.” When announcing that it was their last song of the night, The Notwist were met by loud objections, which quickly disappeared with the track’s opening notes. As the song ended, the band walked to the front of the stage and took a bow together before making their exit.
Never able to gain much of a following in North America, The Notwist are one of indie rock’s unsung heroes; their fan base small, but devoted. Their music means something to their listeners because it means something to them, a sentiment that is obvious with the effort they put into their live shows. To see such musicians passionately working at their craft is a privilege.
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Photo Credits To: g.rag