Night Beats, live in Vienna – review

night beats portrait by courtney chavanelle

In the 1970s the Slaughterhouse of Sankt Marx in Vienna was transformed in function to become the location of all sorts of cultural events. Nowadays the gigantic group of brick fortresses, covered in vines and graffiti, have become a top venue for gigs. Recently, all the hip teens and slackers gathered at one of Vienna’s rock’n’roll headquarters, Arena, for Night Beats, K.U.N.T.Z and Al Lover.

Vienna’s own K.U.N.T.Z. set a sweet and mellow mood for the evening. The crowd was tranquil, sleepy; this was a Wednesday night, after all. The Dreiraum venue wasn’t nearly filled to capacity yet, but it suited the band’s charming mix of country-psychedelic, with just a splash of Reggae tunes sprinkled over the set. The twenty or so people there swayed in unison with the three lads onstage. At the last song, a twist ended the set in a complete mash up jam, a small tornado, preparing the audience for the main act.

Night Beats FlyerAfter a relaxed twenty minute interlude, Night Beats performed. Their sensuous reverb-drenched sound rippled through the crowd, pushing people towards the stage. These boys definitely dress to impress, and were a sight to behold. Singer Lee Blackwell stood on stage with a black shirt buttoned up to the top and sure enough, was soaking in sweat in a matter of minutes. Guess it’s all about keeping up appearances, right? The set was tight, sultry, and had the crowd pushing up against each other like teenagers on prom night; Blackwell acting the role of their prom-king.

The climax was reached with the last two songs. ‘The Other Side’ sent the crowd into a swayfest with its fast-paced chords, intertwined with a sweltering interlude of hot riffs that reminded us of Arabian Nights. After a solid seven minutes of bodies gyrating against each other , bassist Tarek Wegner asked, “Is it cool if we play another song?“ Nice try for a rhetorical question. As soon as the first notes of ‘Puppet on a String’ erupted from the speakers, the audience worked itself into a craze (by Vienna standards anyway, a city infamous for its subdued crowd) as the band played the smash hit from their 2011 album.

Of course, an encore was demanded. Blackwell was already making his way offstage through the crowd, briefly bumping into me, immediately soaking my shirt in second-hand sweat. Yet he climbed back on stage to give the kids what they wanted. Wegner announced: “I want you, just this time, to imagine that you’re listening to the radio in 1959,” – and the eternal chords of Link Wray’s “Rumble“ ripped from the speakers, sending the crowd into one last boogie.

After the show, the exhausted viewers of the spectacle found themselves sitting in front of the “Arena Beisl“, inside of which Al Lover was playing. In a clever move, the speakers had been turned to face the wooden benches and tables in front of the bar, where everyone was enjoying the last beers their money could buy and the music on this mellow summer’s night, lounging to Al Lover’s clever electro-psychedelic touch on some rare 60’s vinyl.

For those who want to see some live footage of the show and hear the Night Beats talk to the boys from “Pavlov’s Dogs“ (a Viennese music blog) can check it out at here. Night Beats are touring Australia with The Laurels in September. Check out the dates and ticket info here.

julia boyle


Review by Julia Boyle.