Brutalismus 3000: Serving ‘ULTRAKUNST’ in Paris 2023
The Berlin-Based post-techno gabber punk duo brought an electric set to La Cigale Hall in May this year.
After discovering the ‘post-techno gabber punk’ duo Brutalismus 3000 on a techno playlist assembled for me by Spotify, I made it a mission to get to their ULTRAKUNST 2023 Tour.
As it just so happened, I was studying abroad in Paris during this tour of just a few European cities, and was relatively positive that the opportunity wouldn’t arise again back in Australia. The Berlin-based duo, Victoria Vassiliki Daldas and Theo Zeitner, are a power couple that have been bringing a new sound and feel to electronic-adjacent genres since 2018. In an interview with Amanda Sandström Beijer for Playful Magazine, they described themselves as anti- the idea of the ’techno revolution’ aesthetic and big clubs making a profit off of the community. Preferring a work-life balance with limited touring, and bringing radical and feminist lyrics to the ‘gabber’ genre, they ticked all the boxes for me. I was already a fan of the 1990s Dutch gabber subgenre and subculture of hard techno that features fast BPMs, loud vocals, and a distorted bass, so Brutalismus 3000 revamping it and bringing it to crowds and communities outside of the Netherlands was a real treat.
It was only once I had convinced some friends visiting me in Paris to come along to the show that I realised it was publicised as a concert in Paris’ La Cigale hall. After seeing their Boiler Room set online and speaking to a friend who had seen their set at Paris’ ‘Nexus’ not too long before, I was unsure about what this show would be like in a venue that resembled a 19th century cabaret-style theatre.
But, of course, they performed an electric set that made it one of the best concerts I’ve been to. The hour-long performance featured songs from their new album, ULTRAKUNST (2023), and hits including ‘No Sex With Cops’ and ‘Good Girl’. The fresh, hard beats are accompanied by lyrics that pay homage to the radical social commentary of punk music, and invite an evolution to the techno world in the way of progressive community building.
La Cigale hall is on the smaller side, with a dance floor below the stage surrounded by standing space on the edges and up above on balconies. As we arrived, the venue was already full with a crowd chanting “tout le monde déteste la police [everyone hates the police]”, keeping alive the anti-police and anti-government sentiments of the contemporary French climate. At this point in May 2023, France had been engaging in frequent strikes, protests and riots against the instatement of a new retirement age. At the time of writing now, even larger and more violent protests have erupted in the face of the death of 17-year-old Nahel in a traffic stop in the suburbs of Paris. Certainly not a singular case of police violence against minority groups in France, the anti-police and anti-authority sentiments are ingrained into their culture.
There with two female friends, we waded our way into the crowded floor, precariously-balanced drinks in hand. A sea of black clothes, sunglasses, eyeliner and bum bags had clambered in from the streets of Paris’ 18th arrondissement. Although a slightly different vibe from the Moulin Rouge on the next block, the appreciation held by young French people for this techno duo seemed to be on par. What may usually be a fancy concert hall with sophisticated spectacles had been transformed by these young people, a hammering bass, a blinding light sequence, and a large emoji projected for the stage’s backdrop. With a bouncing dance floor that felt like it was on the verge of collapse, and such an energy that most people were left topless due to the body heat, the concert became an hour-long rave.
The duo, Daldas and Zeitner, didn’t waste any time introducing themselves or the set. Getting straight into their well-known songs from online performances and previously-released albums, the tracks were mixed by Zeitner and lyrics sung by Daldas. With Daldas performing in the centre of the stage but Zeitner and his decks off to the side, his role in the production and performance seemed to be a little bit forgotten. As techno and similar genres become more commercialised, this seems to be an emerging concern in terms of seeking a big and bold performance that cannot easily capture all of the production that goes into making the tracks. While the set much more resembled the concert of a singer, the crowd definitely had a steadfast appreciation for the songs in their entirety of beats and lyrics. Headbanging, jumping, and waving hands, the whole room was synchronised with the aggressive and post-techno beats of Brutalismus 3000.
With lyrics in a mix of English, German and Slovak, some parts of songs were merely hummed or mumbled to. However, for two of the more outwardly-political songs of Brutalismus 3000, the English lyrics were angrily shouted in unison by Victoria and the crowd alike. Adding this political element and hard-hitting lyrics to techno production makes their discography so much more engaging and easier to passionately shout to. A personal favourite was ‘Good Girl’, a sarcastic listing of the “simple rules” to be a “good girl.” Crying out a song’s worth of oxymorons, the commentary on the contradictory and hypocritical expectations of women to protect themselves from being violated and harmed by men was refreshing.
Don’t go out at night, don’t go out at day, don’t look at him and don’t look away, don’t be a bitch, don’t be prude, don’t be clothed and don’t be nude– ‘Good Girl’ (2020)
Although it was a room filled by men, there were a fair number of women at the show, and the solidarity throughout the crowd singing this song did not go unnoticed. As women, the show did still feel somewhat unsafe and dominated by a masculine energy of mosh pits and fierceness. Almost sucked twice into the concaving moshes, we had to stay vigilant to remain upright. However, with everyone enthralled in the music there appeared to be no time for flirting and mingling, leaving us to otherwise only enjoy the show. With other songs like ‘SAFE SPACE’ on their new album, Brutalismus 3000 continue to display a desire to call out discrimination against women and other marginalised groups in music (especially alternative) spaces.
The show ended with a blend of ‘No Sex With Cops’ and ‘JE N’EXISTE PAS’ – undoubtedly two favourites among the French. The former’s lyrics are mostly limited to a repetition of the bridge “no sex with cops” and the chorus “fuck the cops”, accompanied by a simple hard beat and siren-like sounds. The crowd followed along for the entirety of the song, yelling with an anger that reflected the flashing red stage lights and angry-face emoji that now hung over the stage. Cheers then took over as Theo mixed in their new song ‘JE N’EXISTE PAS’ for the second time in the set. The French title means “I do not exist” and bodes well with the stereotypically existentialist and philosophical French people.
Brutalismus 3000 are certainly a group to follow and listen to, even if they may not have as many shows in the future. There is even an educational value to their music, which you can discover in other Brutalismus 3000 songs like “Cicciolina” – a fitting musical rendition of the Italian erotic film actress and politician’s biography. They bring a radical personality to techno, which the genre seems to be losing at times as it gives into beats that can appeal to a broader audience and club scene. If you like techno or are interested in the evolutions of punk, Euro trance, EDM, you should check out Brutalismus 3000 and revel in its radical lyricism and exciting concoction of colours and sounds.