Stereolab at Koko

21st December 2008 – 11.43 am

Stereolab take the stage to a ripple of applause, a muted welcome that belies the band's perennial success. It makes me reflect on how many years Stereolab have been creating music and how they are still playing to medium-sized audiences, why they aren't filling a stadium by now. It also makes me wonder why so many people apparently come out to see a band play a gig and spend half the night having loud conversations, as an almost-constant murmur threatens to drown out the quieter passages of music. Despite my pensive mood the audience's reception to Stereolab's songs is completely positive, particularly when some of the older tracks are played.

Being experienced with creating and playing music, and certainly happier to be musicians than stars, Stereolab know how to put together an engaging set. There are plenty of older tracks played amongst a sprinkling of newer songs from their recently released album Chemical Chords and it all sounds fresh and exciting. There is a huge reaction to classics like Lo Boob Oscillator and French Disko, the latter an electrifying performance, and Silver Sands stands out for me from the selection of new songs. It doesn't seem long before Stereolab are leaving the stage and Laetitia Sadier is saying that they are just getting warmed up. She walks off with the promise that they'll see us again in a minute.

A minute later and Stereolab are back in the most obviously announced and best fake encore I've witnessed. Laetitia tells us we are lucky as we get another fifteen minutes of their time, before the band lead in to The Emergency Kisses, one of my favourite Stereolab songs. It would be the highlight of the show for me except they didn't play the refrain, so my highlight is from the earlier playing of the wonderful Double Rocker. But just as the band are getting in to the swing of the performance again they have to leave. And this time they have to leave, for the venue has a strict ten o'clock curfew.

At having to leave the stage so early in the evening, unusual for just about any other venue, Laetitia asks everyone 'What happened to rock 'n' roll?' It's a good question, particularly when the last time I saw Stereolab the band returned for three encores, the last completely unplanned and unexpected by the venue. With another vibrant performance of exciting classics and fresh new songs it is clear the spirit of rock 'n' roll has just left the stage.

  1. 3 Responses to “Stereolab at Koko”

  2. I saw Stereolab 3 years ago in Seattle, and they put on an awesome show with 3 encores, and the crowd still begging for more! What venue closes at 10:00pm? The headline act doesn't even start by then here...

    By Jaggins on Dec 21, 2008

  3. hello there,

    i was doing a search around for reviews for the stereolab gig on friday night and stumbled upon yours. it's really well written and well informed. you clearly know what you're talking about and about the band. honestly.

    just wondering, would you at all be interested in submitting the review to a high profiled music website? i took some photographs and need a review to accompany it...

    fine if not, but thought i'd ask!

    let me know,


    By amadeep on Dec 21, 2008

  4. It's really early for a venue to require artists to get off stage. I think it might have something to do with licencing issues, as the venue doesn't actually close. It stayed open as a club until 4 a.m., so I don't know why the band couldn't have stayed on stage for longer.

    I was caught out by the curfew the first time I went to the venue, which was to see Joy Zipper.

    I was running quite late and missed one of the trains in to London. By the time I got to Camden it was about a quarter to ten and I was wondering when the band would be on stage, hoping they wouldn't come on before ten o'clock, which isn't uncommon.

    I heard them playing when I got inside and expected that I had missed maybe fifteen minutes of the set, thinking I'd enjoy another forty five minutes to an hour, but to my amazement I saw an encore and then they left the stage!

    I make sure I don't make that mistake again whenever I go to Koko.

    By pjharvey on Dec 21, 2008

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