Face-achingly funny - Die Roten Punkte

20:25, Oct 29 2012

Die Roten Punkte's Kunst Rock: Art Rock was my last show from the Nelson Arts Festival, and it was the only one that left my face aching with laughter afterwards.

During the show, Otto and Astrid Rot had a long on-stage argument over whether it was a train or a lion who killed their parents, but they agreed their dramatic journey to Berlin was the making of them as a band. Daniel Tobias played sweet, dreamy younger sibling Otto while Clare Bartholomew dominated the stage as his firey, outrageous sister Astrid.

Each larger-than-life character's role was wonderfully clear and developed, and their playing was top-notch. Astrid mostly stayed on the “Astrid island” behind a surprisingly small drum-kit, and Otto had a selection of miniature electric guitars. Was I the only one who noticed their instruments were tiny? Perhaps it saved on touring space.

Both performers also had great singing voices, and they stayed perfectly in time and on-key even during seemingly ad-libbed sections. Instead of the usual punk subjects like love, politics, addiction or all of the above, Die Roten Punkte's songs covered more creative ideas: What if there were dinosaurs working at fast-food restaurants? How do you stop your banana getting squashed when you carry it around in a bag?  Who do you spend time with when your best friend is busy? 

Phil from the audience had the privilege of being Astrid's second-best friend for the evening. They shared a Werther's Original at the same time to seal the deal, and they pretended to be lions together later in the show. Otto also made friends with a lady named Jude from the back of the audience who helped him out of a sticky situation when he had to wipe banana off his hands, but didn't want to risk his custom-made rock'n'roll trousers.

Musically, the band sounded a little bit like early Green Day. Astrid said their inspirations were based in 1980's punk and New Wave bands like Iggy Pop, Blondie, David Bowie, the Ramones and the Corrs, while Otto said they referenced Oasis in several songs. They were both excited about opening for former Dresden Dolls vocalist Amanda Palmer in Australia next February, saying their previous favourite shows had been at the Roxy NYC and in Joe's Pub.


The pair flirted with electro-pop, composing “the artiest song in the whole concert” entirely out of looped rude words, percussion and layered ambient noise on-stage. When Astrid recorded the looping phrase “Otto is a dick” and Otto responded with “I just farted”, I could have almost believed the sibling-rivalry act was for real.

Otto brought out a keytar for my favourite song, Ich bin nicht ein roboter (I am a lion). Complete with recorded roaring and a three-note harmony, this was the story of a young robot who was sent to live with lions instead of a car factory.

He said, “I don’t belong here
It’s a terrible bungle
I wanna go home
I’m the king of the jungle”

Die Roten Punkte were ridiculous and fantastic, and I didn't want their show to end. Nelson was the only city in New Zealand the pair played during this tour- here's hoping they'll come back again sometime soon.