Photos – Jamie Williams
“Do you speak dance?” asks the opening song for this anarchic comedy-music act, and its intentionally awkward extraterrestrial metaphor sets the tone for the Spiegeltent show ahead. “Otto” and “Astrid” are supposedly a German brother and sister 2-piece rock band, who grew up as self-sufficient orphans in something akin to an urban Grimm’s fairy tale. At least, that’s the way they tell their story of woe in one of their “mini rock opera” musical set-pieces.
Like most good examples of this comedic band genre, they have well-developed stage personae which never drop, glammed up like some kind of Frankensteinian collage of echoes of David Bowie, The Ramones, Adam Ant and the Eurovision song contest, by way of Ronald McDonald. Guitarist Otto is a skinny “wasted youth” music geek, dressed in black with heavy makeup, obsessed with artsy music and ethical sustainability, always desperate for a date and to be a crusading rock star like Bono or Chris Martin. His chubby older sister and maternal surrogate, Astrid the drummer, hates his politics and taste in music, preferring to eat chips on stage and snipe through his monologues to the audience, aspiring only to be rich via mainstream success.
Both siblings awkwardly flirt with members of the audience between, and through, their songs – all the while gradually painting a picture of their lacklustre career and overreaching yet oppositional ambitions. Hilarious physical comedy abounds, especially from Astrid as she huffs and puffs back and forth from her drum kit, unable to step up onto or down from the (low) dais, resorting to hilarious barrel-rolls and using her adjustable stool like a forklift. Costume changes and silly props all add to the fun, and those in the front row are unlikely to be safe from a bit of enforced audience interaction.
But any comedy-band act will inevitably fall flat if their songs are not only lyrically funny, but also musically catchy as well. Fortunately, Otto and Astrid’s style is, much like their personae, a canny parodic mashup, evoking new wave, punk and galm rock, with a generous wink to the worst of Europop rubbish and pretentious art rock. While a lot of the laughs come from the interjections of dialogue and “stage business”, the songs themselves are also very witty, both as musical parodies and for their subject matter, ranging from Otto’s dietary fads and Astrid’s sexual proclivities, to the limits of “armchair activism” and whether automatic doors have feelings too. This pair are extremely funny performers, who have clearly honed their act very well indeed.
Otto & Astrid – Eurosmash! Die Roten Punkte whizzes by in a brisk hour or so, and is virtually guaranteed to have you in stitches if two excellent performers intentionally daggy humour bursting the bubble of self-important musicians and the absurd artifice of over-stylised popular music genres is your cup of tea.
Die Roten Punkte
Otto & Astrid – Eurosmash!
Venue: Magic Mirrors Spiegeltent | Meriton Festival Village, Hyde Park North NSW
Dates: 26 – 28 January 2017
Tickets: $40 – $36
Bookings: 1300 856 876