Monday 25 March 2024

Ist Ist / October Drift - Hilversum De Vorstin - 24th March 2024

Ist Ist continued their triumphant European tour, starting the homebound journey at De Vorstin, an impressive and imposing venue in the small sleepy town of Hilversum to a five hundred strong crowd on a Sunday night. Support came from the ever energetic October Drift.

De Vorstin is a great venue, the sound is crystal clear, the sight lines from the floor and balcony unobstructed, the staff efficient and friendly. It's clean and neat without being devoid of any personality. The Dutch know the importance of live music, venues like this, bands being well-fed and decent fees. The money-obsessed UK scene could learn a lot from them.

October Drift will probably headline the next time they come out here. Their seemingly never-ending apprenticeship really should have been over years ago. Kiran has the Dutch crowd eating out of the palm of his hand from the start. They may be known to some, but by the end the roars of appreciation have grown significantly. Whether it's him venturing out into the crowd which he does a couple of times, their impeccable politeness, or above all their raucous energy and clear love of being up on stage in a new room in a new town, they make themselves a whole new bunch of fans tonight.

The half hour set allows them to pick the real big hitters from their two albums to date and they've got a strong canon to choose from to hit and run the audience. Lost Without You sets the energy bar high and it rarely drops through Losing My Touch and Oh The Silence before they finish with Airborne Panic Attack and set closer Forever Whatever. It's a brave band that takes them out on the road now because they'd blow plenty away.

Ist Ist aren't bothered by such things such is the imperious way in which they've developed since the pandemic came to an end. Their last album Protagonists was accompanied by two tours out here where numbers rose with each show and the Dutch and German dates on this tour have pretty much sold out, including 1,100 tickets for Nijmegen on Tuesday. Away from the nostalgia trips that seem to be blighting any opportunities for new music to break through back home and an industry that's looking after their own, Ist Ist are judged on their music and, most importantly, their live show and over the course of twenty songs and eighty-five minutes they demonstrate that they're the UK band making their mark in this part of the world while others bemoan Brexit, cancel tours and lose money playing to half-empty venues.

The set is bookmarked by Wolves and Slowly We Escape, the opening and closing tracks on their debut Architecture, but in between they take us on a journey through a catalogue that now sits at four albums. Although the latest one is yet to be announced and on sale, Andy confirms it's finished and they play four songs from it tonight - their recent single Lost My Shadow, its follow-up The Kiss, due later this month and if there's any justice will be their breakthrough back home, plus the imposing Repercussions and the more melodic Can't Wait For You. Album four is, like each one before it, a step up, this one sounds their biggest jump yet. The crowd treat them like old favourites.

They're all old favourites to this crowd, whenever they've joined the ride with Ist Ist. You're Mine, the penultimate song, kicked this off over here as it was picked up by the Dutch indie station KINK, stationed here in Hilversum, and the crowd react it to like a huge hit single by a big headliner. Ist Ist are heading in that direction here. 

There's a continuity within Ist Ist's repertoire, but it never sounds the same, and the switch to full time has allowed them the ability to rehearse the hell out of these songs, but also to have the fluidity and power for it never to once appear like they're going through the motions. Andy is living his best life and still not quite believing they're playing to so many people so far from home, Joel holds everything together never missing a beat, Mat loses himself in the music throughout and Adam stands dead centre, more mobile than we've seen him before, cracking a smile from time to time as he catches the audience's response to his vocals which have grown stronger with each tour.

The songs from last year's Protagonists feel emboldened by their success. The synths in Nothing More Nothing Less and Mary In The Black And White Room both recall some of Manchester's greatest bands but yet still sound contemporary and relevant now and no one is doing it with such power and panache as Ist Ist. Emily, an old song they resurrected for that record, has blossomed from a skinny waif into a gloriously beautiful creature that it's impossible to divert attention from whilst Trapdoors, which finishes the pre-encore set, feels like an exhalation of the tension that's built during the set, a controlled explosion before they can pause for breath before returning.

This feels like Ist Ist's home now, Andy references The Netherlands being their second home, but the way things are developing, they're going to become one of those bands bigger on the continent than back home where the politics of the industry dictate who gets opportunities and the consequential success. Here all that matters is the music and right now Ist Ist have few equals in that regard.

They play Nijmegen Doornroosje (March 26), Rotterdam Rotown (27), Paaspop (30), Birmingham Hare And Hounds (April 4), Cardiff Clwb Ifor Bach (5), London Moth Club (6), Edinburgh Voodoo Rooms (11), York Fulford Arms (12), Leeds Key Club (18), Liverpool Arts Club (19), Norwich Waterfront (20), Manchester New Century (October 19) and Whitby Tomorrows Ghosts Festival (November 1).

IST IST are on Facebook and Twitter. Their albums can be ordered via their website. Digital versions of their previous limited edition releases and a number of live field recordings are available to download from their Bandcamp

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