BABY’S BERSERK + DEE DIVA – THE HOPE & RUIN (BAR), BRIGHTON 29.10.23
A while back I noted that local promoters Acid Box were hosting a free entry concert in the downstairs bar of The Hope & Ruin on 29th October of a band I had never come across before…Baby’s Berserk. I was intrigued by their name and their look. I needed to investigate. I did and was quite honestly instantly extremely excited to go and see them play live!
According to their website… “Baby’s Berserk was born in a laboratory back in 2019. Tired of being in bands with unruly and unpredictable humans, Mano Hollestelle set out to create a group of high precision robots to create the post-punk sound he had in mind. His outdated technology of floppy disks and cassette tapes worked well to program the androids, until one day a 90s rave mixtape was mistakenly entered into his computer. House music is a feeling and the punk bots instantly got hooked on it upon hearing it for the first time. They could never be reset to factory settings again. Mano worked tirelessly with his androids, currently known by their humanoid names of Lieselot Elzinga, Puggy Beales and Eva Wijnbergen, to fulfil his evil plan to make the rockers dance and the dancers rock. Baby’s Berserk is the fiendish extension of this plot. Beware, the band’s bass driven grooves and computerised beats have been known to cast a spell upon all within earshot.
Following on the critically acclaimed singles ‘What I Mean’ (2020) and ‘Toxic Kisses’ (2022), Baby Berserk’s highly anticipated self-titled full-length is now finally about to see the light. Sonically designed for gritty rock venues as well as dance clubs, Mano’s lush compositions smoothly intertwine with the highly associative lyrics written by Puggy and Lieselot”.
This new found knowledge increased my desire to wish to see them play live even more, and after what seemed an eternity I find myself positioned across from the downstairs bar at The Hope & Ruin and ready to absorb everything that Baby’s Berserk are able to throw at me.
At 8:25pm my dreams came true and for the next 41 minutes I was to be totally captivated by this new discovery coming at me from Amsterdam. In fact tonight is only their second ever English concert, with the other one being the previous night in London at the Shacklewell Arms. They came over in order to promote their self-titled new 8 tune long-player that dropped on 29th September – Check it out HERE.
And so the stage was set…OK the far right hand corner of the bar then. The equipment on offer was a mini Korg, (which is just about my favourite thing in the whole sound of music), a Roland keyboard, and a tambourine all used by Eva, a Danelectro bass guitar, and another tambourine both used by lead vocalist Lieselot, and Mano took care of a Hofner guitar, another set of keys plus drumpads and other effects. Their Dutch chum was off stage and taking care of the sound levels.
It’s fair to say that Baby’s Berserk have seriously got the “we are an edgy synthwave electro dance band and we take no prisoners look” going down. Frontperson Lieselot being resplendent in a striking pink top with oversized bow, black high heel shoes, black stocking, black panties and black eye makeup; Eva was sporting an all in one black rubber/plastic figure hugging catsuit; and Mano was sporting a Basque style black beret, neck scarf, black leather jacket with a black shirt underneath and black trousers. As looks go they nailed it!
But I’m not here for their looks am I? It’s the music that I’ve come to enjoy. We are treated to just seven numbers across the 41 minute set, with a handful of these to be found on their debut album. They open with one of these, the track being the first on the LP, which is ‘Eat Your Dollar’. In essence this was an off-kilter bass and synth epic sounding tune. This was followed by their ‘What I Mean’ 2021 single, which was a dirty disco led tune with Eva adding backing vocals.
‘Limousine’ (from the album) was choice three and compared to the first two was a slower chugging number with a true retro synth feel. ‘Rum ‘n’ Kola’ (also from the LP) was selection four, and this featured Lieselot utilising a further third keyboard to the rear of the stage, thus giving this number a dirty disco beat atop its repeated song title. This was to this point the best tune so far.
Lieselot’s rapid left-right shimmy footwork is a sight to behold and went into overdrive for a tune titled ‘Entertainment’, which I suspect may be an unreleased tune as I can’t seem to find it located anywhere. A forth keyboard with a mic on a wire was utilised by Lieselot during this tune, with this mic giving a whisper style delivery.
Their final two tunes can both be found on the LP, the first of which, ‘Accessories’ was yet another corker and a real banging tune. For this Lieselot climbed up upon the table to the side, where DJ’s usually operate. There was a real late 70’s Giorgio Mororder style backbeat going on here. They then segued straight into the closing number ‘Dancing With The Fish’, which was an absolute banger akin to a Hi-NRG ‘I Feel Love’ with “kissy kissy kissy” vocals atop. This was a 12” version delivery, which I’m sure lasted more than the six minutes song on the disc.
At 9:06pm they were done! I tell you what, I haven’t boogied around this must for quite some time. This has been an almost spiritual experience, and although I go to many, many gigs a year, I strongly suspect that this performance will rank in my Top 5 of 2023. Need I say any more, other than..“Baby’s Berserk…When are you coming back?”.
Lieselot Elzinga –vocals, bass, noise
Eva Wijnbergen – bass synth, synth, backing vocals
Mano Hollestelle – drum machine, synth, guitar
Baby’s Berserk setlist:
‘Eat Your Dollar’ (from 2023 ‘Baby’s Berserk’ album)
‘What I Mean’ (a 2021 single)
‘Limousine’ (from 2023 ‘Baby’s Berserk’ album)
‘Rum ‘n’ Kola’ (from 2023 ‘Baby’s Berserk’ album)
‘Accessories’ (from 2023 ‘Baby’s Berserk’ album)
‘Dancing With The Fish’ (from 2023 ‘Baby’s Berserk’ album)
Support tonight came from Dee Diva which is a house inspired alternative electronic duo formed by Lucy Milani and Yemi Sawyerr. Bouncing between London and Brighton, their relaxed beats and energetic sequences have existed in many forms since 2019.
This evening at the downstairs bar of The Hope & Ruin, the duo are joined by Lucie isle on a striking pink Squier guitar, with Yemi looking resplendent in their tartan outfit, on vocals, Squier bass and laptop/backing track/drum machine control duties, and Lucy on another Squier guitar, but this one’s a black one.
The trio play half of their first tune, ‘Hot Thing’, as a soundcheck. It sounds rather intriguing, with the vocals heaped with reverb, maybe too much so, and there’s an annoying buzzing coming from one of the units on the floor. Our friendly sound engineer Sarah from Gene Pool is on the case and is all eventually rectified. Dee Diva’s eight tune set then commences in earnest at 7:19pm and runs until 7:55pm.
Yemi had informed me that the band is influenced by the work of X-Ray Spex and also Peaches, now there’s a difference for you! I couldn’t necessarily pick up on these from the first two numbers, the aforementioned ‘Hot Thing’ and ‘Panties’. However when they launch into their ‘Pu$$y Rock’ single as song three, there’s an immediate comparison with Sheep On Drugs ‘Mary Jane’, as well as the work of Sigue Sigue Sputnik. They remain in this vibe for the following three tunes, but none are quite as good as the single.
For their penultimate track, listed as ‘Audio Fet’ on their setlist, Yemi ditches the bass guitar and concentrates on the vocals and lo-and-behold we have a different vibe, sound, and musical direction going down. We are suddenly entrenched in The Prodigy territory for the best tune of the set. They have left the sound gremlins behind and suddenly there’s real potential for all to see here! This track should be a single and I would like to see Yemi solely on vocals outfront giving us some serious s*it, even if it means getting a bassist!. The bass guitar returned for their final number, ‘Sex Sells’, which was also a strong tune, filled with 21st century punk mindset anger.
I would very much like to see Dee Diva in action again (without the sound gremlins) and have a second bite of the cherry. I had written 28th November down on my notes, so this is quite possibly their next gig date, but I can’t see anything posted about that just yet. In the meantime, I guess I will head on to their Bandcamp page HERE.
Yemi Sawyerr – vocals and bass (they/them)
Lucy Milani – black guitar (she/her)
Lucie isle – pink guitar (she/her)
Dee Diva setlist:
Find more photos from this concert HERE.