Monday 29 May 2023

Ist Ist - Rees Haldern Pop Bar - 28th May 2023

Ist Ist's European tour continued with a packed out show at Haldern Pop Bar with people watching outside through windows as the venue was full to capacity. An hour-long set taken from all three of their albums felt even more brutal and uncompromising in the baking heat of the German bank holiday weekend.

Since we left Ist Ist in Cologne they'd been to Paris and back, hardly slept because their hotel in France hadn't left their room keys and played their first French show in sweltering heat to a bunch of Parisians who were blown away by them according to our friends who stopped off on their way to Primavera. Back in Germany, this show takes place at Haldern Pop Bar, a remarkable space in the middle of the German countryside, miles from the nearest city and home to the annual Haldern Pop Festival. The venue is a bar converted to a gig venue with a record shop attached and run by people with a genuine love of music as have the attendees at the show, a mix of people who know Ist Ist (we spot a few familiar faces from Cologne) as well as locals curious as to who the venue's curators have brought into town.

There's no support as the tiny stage only just fits the headliners and with a 10pm noise curfew as we are in the centre of an otherwise sleepy traditional yet beautiful town, but for an hour Ist Ist turn the place into a hot sweaty gig venue anywhere in the world. With sound right on the very edge of tipping into distortion but immaculately controlled so that it's visceral without losing any of the detail, Ist Ist demonstrate not just the power of their music but also some of the detail and subtlety in it, even in the moments when they're blowing your head off.

With just an hour to play with the set is stripped down to fifteen songs so there's a few songs people wanted in the audience that didn't make the cut, but it's also testament to the body of the work they now have that this is the case. Whether it be the foot to the floor Stamp You Out or You're Mine, the uplifting more melodic Extreme Greed, Black and Mary In The Black And White Room or the impeccable control they have over the moment a song just explodes like the final duo of Trapdoors and the impromptu encore of Slowly We Escape, Ist Ist feel like they're on a roll right now, supremely confident of their ability to turn up anywhere and to impress a crowd. As in Cologne you sense the audience's reaction to them growing with each song, Adam even dedicating one song to a guy who is one of those watching outside who is dancing along before becoming sheepish at that moment.

With bigger spaces to come in spaces on the more traditional German gig circuit, tonight's show was very much testament to the amazing space that's been created in Haldern and that music lovers can make somewhere feel special with the right mindset. Intimate and intense this was both a throwback to the band's earliest days yet a reminder of just how far they've come, in every sense of the word, in the time since they played venues of this size back home.

Ist Ist played Stamp You Out, Jennifer's Lips, Silence, Extreme Greed, Fat Cats Drown In Milk, Watching You Watching Me, All Downhill, Mary In The Black And White Room, Something Has To Give, Black, Emily, Nothing More Nothing Less, You're Mine, Trapdoors and Slowly We Escape.

Ist Ist are on Facebook and Twitter

Protagonists, as well as previous physical releases, can be ordered via their website. A digital version with an additional eight live versions of tracks from Protagonists can be ordered exclusively from their Bandcamp

Ist Ist's European tour continues at Nijmegen Doornroosje (May 30), Bielefeld Movie (31), Rotterdam Rotown (June 1), Hulst Vestrock (2), Amsterdam Melkweg (4) and Berlin Kantine Am Berghain (5) before they support The Slow Readers Club at Wrexham The Rocking Chair (30), Holmfirth Picturedrome (July 2) and The Mission at Nottingham Rock City (24), Glasgow SWG3 (25) and London Roundhouse (28).


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