“Let’s not pretend it’s a real restart.” For some time we wondered what the concerts of summer 2021 would be like, the first after the long stop imposed starting from the first months of 2020 by the distancing measures and interrupted only by a few sporadic live shows in the last summer. The return to the scene of Lo Stato Sociale in the Cortile delle Armi of the Castello Sforzesco, in Milan, is one of the first of the summer and therefore among the first responses to what for months has been an enormous unknown. In what was once one of the main military citadels of Europe it is clear to everyone that normality is still a long way off, but the music that finally resounds among the public often gives it a semblance that the Bolognese collective does not take long to break. “Half of our technicians are not here” – continues Lodo in his speech in the middle of the concert – “I mean, I missed you, but that was another matter”.
The date at the Castle has been sold out for some time and thanks to a last minute waiver it was able to welcome a few more spectators. Spectators clearly seated, spaced, wearing masks, in line with the Reopening Decree of last April. Even backstage, having a chat with some of the gods regassed de Lo Stato Sociale before the start of the concert, the fact that the Recovery Tour of the band, which started in Milan, was more a compromise than a happy conquest after a year and a half of silence had emerged without misunderstanding. «We would have loved to have brought our entire technical team here. If we are five they are six to ten, it depends on the size of the audience. Around this time we had to cut a lot because we too had to cut a lot from our personal economies and unfortunately we could not bring our brothers, our technicians », says Carota as the sun cooks the courtyard of the castle. Albi continues: «It is the only thing that can be done and it is accepted for what it is. It is a compromise both for our history and for the work culture that accompanies this type of event. We are in a limbo of emotions because we can finally go back to doing our job but we are sorry because this is not the idea of culture, the idea of work and live music that we have ».
The Social State has long been one of the most active bands in the struggle for the protection of workers in the entertainment world. Many will remember the intervention on stage of the last edition of the Sanremo Festival, where the band was competing with his Combat Pop. The commitment of the Bolognese band is not limited to the appeals: «We need a priori recognition of what is the condition of the show. Above all Bebo – aka Alberto Guidetti, in the band drum machine, synthesizer and voice, ed – in the last year he has opened various negotiating tables working with other artists and entertainment workers. They were often and willingly in parliament, they went to be heard, demonstrations were held », Albi continues, further specifying the positioning of the band.
And in short, “Why are you doing this? Why don’t you go away? “, Borrowing the words of one of the passages from Lodo and companions, A life on vacation. «We take this experience as a kind of pre-warm-up, we are starting to move again, a kind of rehabilitation. Is called Recovery Tour for this”. This is the response of the head, which comes from Albi under the trees of the courtyard. The one of the heart, on the other hand, is presented by Lodo on stage speaking to an audience that does not always resist the rules of distancing and on a couple of songs she stands up abandoning herself to music and choirs. “I’m here for the four of you,” he says, addressing his bandmates immediately before lining up with tears in his eyes a series of significant episodes that have linked the regaz of Lo Stato Sociale over the years, from the time Checco announced to a group that would become a father to the one in which Lodo was not so convinced of releasing the record and Carota told him that if this did not happen he would return to the factory. The voice of I broke my dick yesterday he was there for his boys: bandmates, friends, workers.
For a band that of contact, pogo, choirs at the top of their lungs has made a figure of its live, keeping away from the public is still a blow to the heart that tries to overcome with some gimmicks that the group defines “technological”. Basically, a telephone number is provided to the audience through which it is possible to communicate with the band: the messages are read and commented on on stage and it is always through this method that a guitarist is identified to welcome on stage – complete with a mask, measurement of temperature, hands and guitar disinfected – to join the group for the time of a song. The game breaks the flow of the concert and creates some dead moments but in the end it works: the audience is happy and feels close to the band.
For the rest, with some technical problems here and there, the group plays with the recollectivised pieces of its repertoire – the expression is theirs – and proposed in shared versions often sung by members of Lo Stato Sociale different from the original interpreters of the song. . The experiment is perfectly in line with the band’s approach to music and group dynamics even if in some cases the quality of the songs is affected. The lowest moment in terms of song rendering – ranging from individual EP songs released this year by the five regaz to their career hits, accompanied by an updated version of I’m so indie with reference to the trap, electric cars and DPCM which, together with the pandemic, entered the life of Italians and Italian women – it is when without amplification Lodo, Bebo, Checco, Carota and Albi propose an almost inaudible version of A life on vacation: the audience follows one time, the band another and the result makes the ears bleed. It must be said, however, that the group would have liked to play it in the middle of the audience, an idea killed by the rules governing distancing. The effect would certainly have been very different.
No encore, the second pandemic summer probably does not allow it. The difference compared to the good old days of live music is making itself felt: it is already a lot for those who expected an even worse scenario, it is little for those who without sweaty t-shirts and flying beers just can’t hear themselves at a concert. Speaking of beers, the public is allowed to drink and drinks are sold alongside the seating area. It was not obvious, even considering that summer arenas in the Milanese suburbs such as Magnolia and Carroponte had to divide their spaces between a part strictly reserved for music and one reserved for food & beverage.
Next year Lo Stato Sociale will celebrate the tenth anniversary of its career when the debut album of the collective, Democracy tourists, will be ten years old. Who knows if by then the group that grew up in the Bolognese social centers and reached the top floors of the charts will be able to take all its staff on tour and let its audience dance freely. This is how the concerts of Lo Stato Sociale and many other artists worked. And as incredible as it is today it is still a small dream.