Hot off from what I heard was a show-stealing performance at FYF Festival, !!! made their way East to Salt Lake last night. Having heard such high praises for the bands FYF showing, I think I may have set my bar a little high. Ive been a fan of their older stuff a la Louden Up Now,but their latest Strange Weather, Isnt It wasnt all too appealing. Not that it was bad, it just sort of slipped between the cracks. in the midst of a lot of great music coming out around the same time In all honesty, though, how much repetitious, falsetto-flaring, bass-bursting dance-punk can one person take before they begin to grow bored? Rhetorical question. Im sure there are plenty of people who could party to !!! and their contemporaries for days on end, but as a casual listener, their work has become a bit tiresome, and unfortunately so was their live act.
I may have been biased, or rather, my opinion may have been adversely affected by the conditions of the night/the club. The tickets read: !!! @ In The Venue on Sept, 11, 2010, doors at 7:00. Pretty standard. Unfortunately, for reasons still unknown, !!! didnt go on until 10:30, three and a half hours later than scheduled, leaving the few in attendance confused and bothered. I arrived at the club at 9:30 in hopes of missing an opener I had no desire to see, but was greeted by an unsettling surprise: no one had gone on yet.
Worse still, glancing in at the stage area, I could only see like 15 people awkwardly around the place. I asked the ticket-taker, Chk Chk Chk?, thinking I had missed the show entirely. She nodded that I was in the right place and explained they hadnt gone on yet. I was completely flabbergasted at this point. Not only was this the fewest number of people Ive ever seen at this club that Ive been going to for five years, but all the familiar symptoms of a rock show were missing. No merch table, no background music to keep the crowd tided over, not even roadies making their usual rounds. Were talking about a venue that has housed sellout shows for Vampire Weekend, Yeasayer, Islands, etc. It was all very haphazard. Come to think of it, though, Kelly Clarkson was in town last night, too. Maybe thats where everyone else was
I took a seat against the wall and just soaked in my surroundings. I took a head count at this point: 23 people in a 400 person capacity club. The people who had arrived at door time were obviously tired, lying down on the benches that surround the walls of the small venue. The overall attitude seemed bleak. So bleak, in fact, that when the opener went on (I literally cant even remember their name they were so forgettable) only about ten people went to the stage to support them. Everyone else stayed in their seats or against their wall spots.
Remember when you were in a band in high school and you thought your next show was gonna rule and you were gonna knock everyones socks off and the place would be packed? But then it turned out that only your friends and maybe your mom came so there were only twelve people in front of the stage and they werent even really listening? Do you remember the disappointment of that moment? Yet, the show must go on, so you played your set to dead air, and went on with your life. Thats exactly how this opener felt. It was certainly no ego-booster playing to an empty club, opening for a fairly popular band.
So the fact that their set was boring and awkward was no spirit lifter. All 23 of us were still tired and annoyed that it was past 10 and !!! hadnt gone on yet. Members of the band made their way to the stage one by one to begin setting up their equipment, doing it themselves, and taking quite a long time to do so. I know that !!! pride themselves in their DIY aesthetic, and thats cool, but its only cool to a point. When every member of the band has been on the stage and is wrapping tape around things and plugging in amps and lugging keyboard stands to the stage, it becomes not so much DIY, just plain unprofessional.
There is a silver lining, however. At two minutes past 10:30, they took the stage, ignoring the fact that they had sort of been hanging us out to dry for the past few hours, and that almost no one was there, and jumped right into the frivolous antics theyre so well known for. I dont know how anyone had any will to dance, but upon the opening chords of !!!s latest single AM/FM, they kids started to dance.
It was almost magical watching frontman Nic Offer conjure the spirit of dance in the souls of the small audience. If there was ever a man born to dance his heart out and get the party started, it was Nic Offer. I watched him during their set up period, and he brought out an enormous stack of towels and water bottles, and I wasnt sure what he intended to do with them. It became unmistakably clear what they were for about two songs into the set: to keep the dance machine Offer hydrated and not swimming in his own sweat.
The show didnt dip once, and the band maintained their high energy for the entirety of their set. And they did it without lights, for some reason. Im not sure if it was an intentionally dim stage setting, or if the club is really starting to go under, but there were no lights other than the main spotlight focused on Offer. Its extremely notable that after a three and a half hour wait, a very slim number of fans, and no pyrotechnics whatsoever that they rocked as hard as they did. Im going to give them the benefit of the doubt, and guess that the club screwed up, or that their bus broke down and forced them to be late, because once they got onstage, things were okay. It was still a small show, but that didnt seem to phase them and they brought their A game.
Unfortunately, as I mentioned earlier, I can only freak dance for so long, and I can only listen to funk-rock, electro-pop for so long before it all starts sounding the same. While they brought a great energy and evoked a sizable dance party, musically, !!! is a one trick pony. Like I said, Im sure that there are those out there who love that one trick and can listen to that one trick forever. But for those of us casual listeners, disinterest begins to set in at some point during the set.
Ill give them major props for overcoming the odds and doing their thing, which was quite enjoyable to watch for a time. But the show was a failure on the whole. The poor logistics won out in the end, leaving a bad taste in the mouths of most of the crowd. Their onstage antics, though very engaging, werent enough to surmount the mood of the terrible night. Very few bands are worth a three and a half hour wait, and Im sorry to say that !!! just isnt one of them.
All My Heroes Are Weirdos
Jamie, My Intentions Are Bass
Heart of Hearts
A New Name
The Most Certain Sure
Steady As The Sidewalk Cracks
Must Be The Moon