Event Review: Tootard @ Electrowerkz [London; Thursday 24th March 2022]

TootArd 2 photo by Jenan Shkeer

Rami and Hasan, the Syrian duo of brothers, have just finished their London show at the exciting and packed Electrowerkz tucked behind the main streets of Angel. As the last notes from the 80s-sounding synths echo out into the crowd, it feels as though the floor could fall through from the intensity of the claps and stomps, and astonishingly half the crowd have their hands clapped over their ears to protect from the sheer impact of the applause, all while joining in with bellowing ‘woo’s’ – seemingly testing just how loud of a response could be achieved. 

I’m not surprised however: what I just witnessed was more than a regular concert. 

Tootard started its musical journey resonating reggae sounds, then grooving through desert blues, only to depart at a new stop they call West Asian Disco, but after that performance, I would also hail this band at the forefront of a dub disco movement – a category I didn’t know how much we all needed, until Tootard showed us. Flashing lights, endless dry ice, and two kinds of energies on stage delivered an intense, fully packed, powerful performance. 

The way that the duo have seamlessly transitioned their older songs from slower, melodic desert blues grooves: replacing clap rhythms with heavy, nearly dub, synth bass and guitars and sax swapped for nostalgic sounding key synths, all in disco upbeat dance driving beats, resulting in an irresistible moveable music that literally had everybody in the room completely unable to stand still, even dropping fully into dub beats at times. Convivial scenes in the crowd with dancing throughout, as great circles of traditional west Asian dancing encircled the solo disco dancers.

Not all is new however: throughout the show, we still hear the characteristic quarter tone riffs that sound so homely to Tootard. 

Playing through the new album left no doubt that it has been received with roaring success and love, as the crowd sing along to the majority of the gig, even though this will be one of the first times the band has played the new material live. 

It seems Tootard is a complete success at forefronting West Asian disco and dub disco and is marking its spot as one of the best live performances. A must see for feel good energy.


Photo ©: Jenan Shkeer

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