Here is my first beef with Norway's Datarock: dressing in frickin' red track suits means I think you're gonna delve into some grime or potentially a phat MC battle, not that you're gonna bust out an electro jam about girls with phantom penises or jump around on stage like a bunch of lunatics.
But, lucky for these blokes from across the pond, they are adorable and talented to boot, and their ensemble eventually won me over as my cynical ass stood in the crowd at Mezzanine Saturday night for the Download afterparty. I had woken up on the wrong side of my indie rock bed and arrived at the show sort of crabby, though. Chalking it up to the hangover I was nursing from the previous night's salsa club excursion, I settled into being a wallflower and watching five dudes furiously clapping about while wearing stunna shades.
The guys spilled onto stage shortly before midnight, and launched into some pretty hip tracks like "I Used To Dance With My Daddy," which finds breezy synth layered over a chill percussion session. Standout "Computer Camp Love," which begins with a slinky and fun deep bass key, picked up to incorporate a nice drum loop while the guys barbershop-quarteted their way through a snip of Grease anthem "Tell Me More," including the lyric "Did you get in her pants?/She's not that kind of a girl, booger/Why, does she have a penis?" Datarock was best at making tracks to groove to, implementing a dash of wit to the lyrics laid over very catchy dancepop beats.
My other beef with the band, however, is that they took a bit to build momentum until it felt like even they themselves had fun. The initial start of their set focused more on a prog and indie rock sound, and it seemed way unfocused. And it's not like songs such as "Bulldozer" are bad, even; perhaps set apart from the rest of their catalogue, it could stand on its own and maybe pave the way for another direction. But knowing that that dancepop element exists, and that Datarock has the controls to helm a fine sound, it's hard to give a listen to rock when you know the next song is gonna take you out for a spin on the dance floor and tousle your hair a little bit. Maybe I just need to layoff the Cut Copy record, though (seriously, it's like crack).
"I love you, San Francisco," frontman Rock Steady Freddy proclaimed as the show started winding down. Thanks, doll. Me too.