As the four men of Datarock entered the stage, the scene looked more like a large-scale aerobics class was about to take place rather than a performance. Each adorned in matching Datarock red tracksuits with big sunglasses (like a hipster’s take on Devo), the group stood still, which was far from a foreshadow on how the rest of the night would pan out. The motionless act soon came to life, running and jumping around the stage, even doing the running man, and basically partying like it was 1985.
The Bergen, Norway natives opened with “Computer Camp Love,” a song reminiscent of Grease’s “Summer Nights,” off the foursome’s debut album Datarock Datarock, during which each member slowly made their way to their respective instruments. Combining a mix of disco, new wave and punk, Datarock’s mission was clear—Let’s Have A Good Time. In fact, the guys will ask you repeatedly louder and louder if you’re having one ‘til they get the response they want. “It’s a Monday night so let’s trying something stupid,” said leader Fredrik Saroea, announcing a theme that lasted through the night, resulting in a broken guitar, lots of jumping and a shirtless encore.
The lead singer/guitarist/occasional drummer, Saroea, sounded like Talking Heads’ frontman David Byrne (one of the group’s noted influences) more so in a live setting than in the group’s recordings. Saroea takes a laissez-faire approach to controlling his voice while singing live, which actually works to his advantage in emulating Byrne. The new wave outfit’s influence was clear while performing songs like “Fa Fa Fa” and Datarock’s new single, “Catcher In The Rye” that uses the same “ayeyayeyaye” sound as “Psycho Killer.”
The energy of the band was driven by Kjetil Moster, who switched between saxophone, keyboards and vocals, running around the stage to play with the other band members and hyping up the crowd. Moster never stopped moving, whether he was running in place or leaning forward on a sax solo, or even surfing through the crowd—which every member also took part in—while a very concerned-looking stagehand waited to pull him back up.
The Datarock persona penetrated all obstacles put in place by the ambience. Though it’s clear that the band takes on a certain set of characters on stage, I can’t imagine it’s too far off from the members’ own personalities seeing as it felt genuine. They really would have cared if someone wasn’t having a good time—and probably would’ve gone out to the audience to ensure they were having fun—though it would’ve been difficult to find anyone that wasn’t at least nodding along with the disco-funk beats.