Australia’s original rock ’n’ roll circus, Circus Oz, and Berlin’s Prince and Princess of art rock and Europop, Otto & Astrid, are bringing their hilarious and hard-rocking adult circus extravaganza ‘Rock Bang’ to Sydney Festival 2019.
Two halves of Die Roten Punkte (The Red Dots), Otto & Astrid were adopted by the Australian circus community when they first performed Down Under in 2006.
“Even though we are a serious band – we do Europop, art rock, post-punk and rock ‘n’ roll – we had this manager who kept booking us into comedy festivals and theatre festivals, and we just kept finding ourselves in the same rooms as circus people,” Otto explains.
Picking up the story, Astrid continues, “When Rob Tannion, the new Artistic Director of Circus Oz, got the job two-and-a-half years ago, he wanted to make a big splash with a big show. He noticed that a lot of circus companies around the world like Cirque du Soleil have a band that they do a show about like The Beatles and Michael Jackson, and so he thought, ‘Wow! If I could get the best band in the world to work with Circus Oz that would be amazing!’
“And so he Googled best band in the world, and he got the Foo Fighters and then he got Radiohead but they said no, and then he looked again and it had 'Die Roten Punkte - Otto & Astrid' (because we wrote a song called ‘Best Band In The World’) and so he contacted us and we said yes!”
Image © Andrew Wuttke
Fans of rock musicals ‘Hedwig And The Angry Inch’ and ‘The Rocky Horror Show’ and inspired by the classic rock opera ‘Tommy’ and Green Day’s rock musical ‘America Idiot’, Otto & Astrid describe ‘Rock Bang’ as a circus rock opera.
Asked what audiences can expect, Astrid deadpans, “If you have a rock band and people singing, and people doing amazing acrobatics and being bendy and leaping and playing characters, that’s a circus rock opera.”
Displaying a dysfunctional sibling relationship to rival the Gallagher brothers, Otto & Astrid’s onstage squabbling throws the rehearsed circus routines and songs into spectacular chaos, as they attempt to tell – through their music – their fantastical life story of being orphaned as kids and growing up in artist-filled squats, to becoming the darlings of Berlin’s underground rock scene.
Discussing their songwriting process, Otto says, “Usually what happens is one of us has an idea, and say if I have an idea and I tell Astrid, then she says something and then I say something, and then she says something really loud and then we do that.”
“We usually go with whoever gets the loudest, and that’s always me really isn’t it?” Astrid agrees.
Image © Andrew Wuttke
Part rock concert and part side-splitting comedy smashed together with acrobatic punk anarchy, the show is a sensory feast of heart-stopping stunts, physical ridiculousness, soaring guitars, thumping drums and contagious tunes.
“We’re really excited to bring the show to Sydney Festival, and I think what a lot of people get excited about is seeing Astrid and I doing some circus, and seeing Circus Oz people playing music,” Otto says. “Sometimes we are dancing, sometimes we’re doing tricks, sometimes we’re singing, and it’s just a lot of fun and there’s lots of surprises.”
“Otto does aerials,” Astrid confides. “He does somersaults and backsaults.”
“It is true,” Otto chimes in.
“They do attach ropes to me and I do go in the air. Hopefully I’ll come down as well.”
‘Rock Bang’ plays Riverside Theatres as part of Sydney Festival 10-13 January.