TWRP at Melkweg, Amsterdam, Thursday 28 September 2023

Three gigs in two weeks, wow, it’s been a while since I’ve been that active. There were a couple gigs I had to miss earlier in the summer because of circumstances (Maggie Rogers, The Heavy), but I’ve been catching up on activity.

Where 65daysofstatic was a gig, TWRP was a show. Alex has been a fan of theirs for years, and he’s the one who introduced me to their music. This is the first time I’ve seen them live, but I understand that this is what their shows are like: to match their costumed on-stage personas, they weave a scripted narrative between their songs, heavy on jokes and interaction with the audience.

This is their “International Business” tour, which is sponsored by “International Business Systems”. The crew wore blue IBS t-shirts, styled like the classic IBM logo. Of course, IBS can also mean irritable bowel syndrome, and they played on this double meaning with this throughout the act. The story line involved a new IBS prototype called GROBB (Good ROBot Boy), who turns evil (or at least very misguided) part-way through the show, and has to be defeated by lead singer Doctor Sung hacking into the mainframe. The masks that the band wear hide their expressions, but Doctor Sung makes up for it with his larger-than life antics on stage. It’s playful and terrific fun. The audience was 100% nerds, and totally on board for every second of it. The encore absolutely brought the house down.

In their music they often collaborate with other artists (Ninja Sex Party, Electric Six), but on stage Doctor Sung takes the vocal parts for himself with his talkbox. I was close to the stage, but way on the right, where I didn’t have a view of GROBB, but I did have a great view of the musicians themselves. In their recordings I hadn’t spotted quite how bass-led many of their songs are, but that came through very strongly on stage. Commander Meouch the bass player makes it all look easy.

Alex was there with his friends Rafael and Wim. I don’t think they’re as much fans as Alex is, but they all came out of the gig beaming, looking like they had a great time. Alex was positively bouncing off the walls. None of us particularly enjoyed the opening act (Jazz Emu), but the main event made up for it in spades. Very highly recommended!

Merch haul: an IBS t-shirt for me, as well as a tour poster and a couple of stickers. Alex got at least one t-shirt, probably more.

Set list (in collaboration with Alex and, because I didn’t recognize all the songs):

  1. Birth of the Blues (followed by introduction to GROBB)
  2. VHS
  3. Bright Blue Sky
  4. Polygon
  5. Only The Best
  6. Typhoon Turnpike -> Hidden Potential
  7. Atomic Karate (with nunchuks)
  8. Summer Everyday
  9. Superior Moves
  10. Have You Heard?
  11. Head Up High
  12. Synthesize Her


  1. Starlight Brigade
  2. All Night Forever

65daysofstatic at Tolhuistuin, Amsterdam, Saturday 23 September 2023

Second time seeing 65 in two weeks! This time I was back on home turf. Alex came along as well. We had both been somewhat nonplussed after their 2018 Decomposition Theory gig at the same venue, but this would be more like a “classic” gig. (In hindsight, I actually enjoy listening to Replicr, the album that Decomposition Theory evolved into, and I like listening to the Wreckage Systems livestream. But it wasn’t what I’d been expecting going into the gig.)

Abi dropped us off at Tolhuistuin. Alex was suffering from a blocked ear, so he’d be experiencing the music partly in mono, and partly through the heavy bass vibrations. Neither of us was super excited about Sugar Horse as the support act, so we showed up late.

It was interesting to compare the two gigs so close together. Tolhuistuin is a larger venue than St. Luke’s. The sound quality was also much better here: not nearly so harsh, and with much greater separation and clarity of the instruments. I did have earplugs with me this time, but I didn’t need them squeezed in to their absolute maximum capacity.

The band seemed much more relaxed up on stage, which is perhaps not surprising. The St. Luke’s gig was the opening night of the tour, and the first time they’ve played a full tour for quite a while. The times I’ve seen them they’ve never interacted much with the audience, but they had a little bit more chat in Glasgow than in Amsterdam. The break between the two halves of the set was much longer. In Glasgow, they left the stage for just a couple of minutes, while in Amsterdam they took a full 15-minute break. Alex and I watched the first half from the balcony, but we had time to queue up for a drink at the bar, along with a hundred other people.

After the break we found a spot downstairs and watched the second half of the set from there. Just as in Glasgow, they played the whole of Wild Light in the first half, and a collection of bangers for the second half. They didn’t play “Supermoon” in Amsterdam, but they did leave the stage and come back for an encore of “I Swallowed Hard, Like I Understood”.

The crowd seemed warmer than in Glasgow, but maybe that was because there were just more people in the venue. And as at the Decomposition Theory show five years ago, there was a dude who shouted “Radio Protector” before they played it… and after it as well.

Merch haul: a grey Wild Light t-shirt for me (L is a good size, but I don’t think the vinyl printing on the front is going to last well) and a black Specialists t-shirt for Alex.

Set list:

  1. Heat Death Infinity Splitter
  2. Prisms
  3. The Undertow
  4. Blackspots
  5. Sleepwalk City
  6. Taipei
  7. Unmake the Wild Light
  8. Safe Passage


  1. Debutante
  2. Install a Break in the Heart That Clucks Time in Arabic
  3. Retreat! Retreat!
  4. Crash Tactics
  5. AOD
  6. Asimov
  7. Radio Protector


  1. I Swallowed Hard, Like I Understood

65daysofstatic at St. Luke’s Glasgow, Thursday 14 September 2023

My friend Graham at work is an enthusiastic concert-goer like me. Last year he told me about a gig he’d been to at St. Luke’s in Glasgow. The venue, a small converted church just round the corner from the Barrowlands, sounded like exactly my kind of thing. Because I’m still over in Scotland regularly, I kept my eye on their “What’s On” page in case anything interesting came up.

And it did! Back in January 65daysofstatic announced a tour for the 10th anniversary of their album Wild Light, and they would be kicking it off at St. Luke’s. They would also be playing Tolhuistuin in Amsterdam. Because I wasn’t sure what my travel plans would be that far ahead, I just got myself a ticket for the Amsterdam gig. But as we got nearer the time, the circumstances lined up for me to be in Scotland just at the right time to catch them in Glasgow as well!

I even persuaded Graham to come along as well. (He didn’t take much persuading.) I was in Edinburgh for the day, and I drove over to Glasgow after work. I had a hard time figuring out how to pay for my parking at the Spoutmouth parking nearby, because I didn’t have any coins and I didn’t have a UK parking app downloaded and set up. But I got to the venue eventually, and we had some dinner (a nice pizza) at the bar/restaurant. We missed the opening act, Chipzel, although we heard quite a bit of it through the walls. As we were chatting over dinner we also discovered that we both have tickets to see Melanie Martinez at the Hydro in November with our daughters. Concert dads stick together 💪🏻.

The gig was good. The venue is pleasantly sized, maybe around 300 capacity? It wasn’t full. I didn’t have earplugs with me, and we were standing right in front of the speaker stack. My watch was giving me all kinds of alarms about being in a noisy environment, and it was right to do so – at the end of the evening my ears were ringing and the world sounded flat. In not sure if it was just proximity to the speakers, but the sound quality did seem quite harsh to me. (Perhaps the sound system is more suited to less noisy and distorted acts.)

The band played through the whole of the Wild Light album, then took a couple of minutes for a break, and came back on and played a selection of fan favourites. The last time I saw them was in 2018 on their Decomposition Theory tour, which was very different. This time they had the whole band plus Frank (whom they talk about on their Bleak Strategies podcast). The crowd was enthusiastic, but not exactly wild. Maybe a factor of age.

About four tracks in, I had the sudden notion that in my fluster around paying for parking, I’d left the rental car unlocked with my laptop and camera in my backpack in the boot. This was distracting, because I kept playing through scenarios in my head of what I’d have to do if they got stolen… In the end it was fine. I had locked the car, and no break-in occurred. But I didn’t perhaps have my full attention on the music at all times. Graham seemed a bit blown away by the end – I’m not sure if he had been expecting it to be quite so noisy

Set list:

  1. Heat Death Infinity Splitter
  2. Prisms
  3. The Undertow
  4. Blackspots
  5. Sleepwalk City
  6. Taipei
  7. Unmake the Wild Light
  8. Safe Passage
  9. Debutante
  10. Install a Break in the Heart That Clucks Time in Arabic
  11. Retreat! Retreat!
  12. Crash Tactics
  13. AOD
  14. Supermoon
  15. Asimov
  16. Radio Protector