Let’s face it, the last few Covid-inflicted years have been a pretty miserable affair for all of us. And, while the world’s slowly returning to a somewhat more normal state, between the economic and environmental crisis and the war in Ukraine, fun is still a thing that rarely finds a space to call home anymore. That is, until Electric Callboy’s Electric Ballroom show.
While many bands struggled through the lockdowns to make a continued impact, the electroncore singles of Electric Callboy (EC) managed to find viral success, in part to all the brilliantly fluorescent gym wear, fake mustaches and 80’s mullets that they contained, and some hilarious dance moves. It’s an aesthetic and tongue-in-cheek approach, that while common for the band, harks back to more care-free times, at a time when perhaps they’re missed most. While EC has been around since 2010, it hasn’t hindered them either that this new material is arguably also some of their best to date. It’s no surprise then that their long-delayed return to the UK sold out way before it’s rescheduled night ever happened.
As the Hawaiian shirt-clad crowd slowly filed into the fortuitously-named venue, the tempo for the night was set from the very off – One Morning Left blending 80’s sounding synth riffs with 2000’s metalcore screams and gang vocals in tracks as catchy as they are heavy. As frontman Mika Lahti pulls power stances and flexes his guns between flexing his vocals, it’s ridiculous in all the best possible ways. For a crowd obviously eager to just have a good time, a big sing-along cover of Michael Jackson’s Beat It and the first pits of the evening are the perfect way to shake the dust off after a couple of years spent in live music hibernation. Ruby Dragon and You’re Dead! Let’s Disco are highlights as chiptune samples and depth growls collide before the band leaves the stage to raucous applause. The bar had been set.
Next was the turn of Finland’s post-hardcore Eurovision entry 2021, Blind Channel, to get the crowd moving. With a front-row including multiple handwritten signs and flags, it’s clear that they’ve already established a loyal fanbase in the UK following their TV appearance, as the members bring a performance fine-tuned for an arena to the confines of a much smaller stage. In-time hair whips, jumps, and choreographed interaction moments might seem a bit cheesy at a lot of shows these days, but again, it’s bang on the money for those who just want a light-hearted chance to rock out. Strong original tracks Over My Dead Body and Died Enough For You are intermixed with covers of Anastacia’s Left Outside Alone and Eminem’s Lose Yourself, in another set that again is best described by that elusive word – fun. They leave the stage, before returning quickly for their own mini encore and performance of the track that represented their country, Dark Side. With its DJ scratches, spoken semi-rap, and chunky guitars, it’s a song straight from the early 2000’s, and let’s face it, a smash that rightly deserves to be a guilty, or not so guilty pleasure.
Suitably hypa hypa, anticipation was now intense among the crowd. Following a curtain drop and a mass of beer launched towards the stage, Electric Callboy adorned in fake mullets and gym wear opened on new-favourite Pump it to a hero’s welcome, as well as some questionable dance moves among the amassed. My Own Summer and Hate/Love followed as the grins on stage and off grew larger every second as all present let their hair down, and the band’s wigs were thrown off. New vocalist Nico Sallach fits in perfectly with Kevin Ratajczak as the pair’s dual vocal attack tore through track after track including The Scene and Supernova. Seal’s Kiss From A Rose is teased then bailed on, to boos from the crowd and banter from the stage. It’s clear that nobody is taking things too seriously, and everyone is here to have that word again – fun.
It’s not every eurodance-influenced metalcore band that could slow the tempo down for an acoustic track, but that’s exactly what happens next in the shape of a surprisingly beautiful rendition of Prism that highlights the easily overlooked talent of the band. A return to tempo and accompanying growls for Crystals is then followed by another new hit Spaceman. With 1,500 people chanting along to the lyrics “I’m a spaceman, got a rocket on my back. Spaceman, oh, I’m ravin’ like a maniac.”, it’s a hilarious moment for all involved, and a somewhat bemusing one for a few parents stood at the back, before the song’s harsh vocals kick back in and the pits open up once more. MC Thunda II (Dancing Like a Ninja) forms another highlight before the band leaves the stage for the first time.
With Electric Callboy returning in white bomber jackets and bowl cut wigs for synchronised head thrusts and the effortlessly catchy We Got The Moves, the troubles of the outside world are long forgotten as people dance, jump, laugh, and lose their sh*t as ticker tape falls around them. MC Thunder follows before the night reaches its crescendo on Hypa Hypa, a song sang from its very first dance beat to its final death growl by everyone in the room.
With new album Tekkno out soon, and some more UK dates announced for later in the year, the fun-filled escapism of Electric Callboy isn’t going anywhere soon.