Wednesday, June 5, 2013

!!! (Chk Chk Chk) @ Fortune -- 06/04/13

I've been lucky enough, in the last few years, to whittle down my List Of Bands I Need To See Live. And as the list shrank, one band rose to the top: the California dance-punk band !!! (pronounced Chk Chk Chk). I had heard nothing but good things, so when they announced they were coming back through town to promote their newest album, THRI!!!ER, I knew I couldn't miss it.
They were also playing a venue that I had somehow not been to before, Fortune Sound Club, which I was also interested in checking out for the first time.

The opening band was White Arrows, also from California. They had a dancey-rock sound, definitely appropriate to lead into !!!, but a lot of their songs had a bit of the same sound to them.
About mid-way through their set, they introduced one song -- perhaps redundantly -- as their "dance number", while the lead singer put on an electric blue wig and another member ran through the crowd, grabbing people to fill the empty gap at the front of the stage. I didn't catch the name of it, but it stuck out as one of the better ones, as well as one called "Fireworks of the Sea", which came at the end of the set, another bombastic dance-inducing tune. 
Ultimately they were not at all bad, but nothing that really made me want to hear more immediately. But they were fun in the moment, and sometimes that's all that matters. 

It wasn't long then before !!! came out, and from the moment they took the stage, singer Nic Offer was at the front with dance moves that would make anyone jealous. Throughout the entire show, he hardly stood still for a moment, strutting back and forth across the stage, hips thrusting & arms waving, with an unmatched energy and zest. Several times he was in the faces of the front row, getting them to sing along, and even jumping into the crowd to sing, going as far back to dance atop the bar. 
His obvious enthusiasm shone through with a big grin on his face between songs, and that was definitely infectious, as the crowd was going nuts, dancing and jumping along with wild abandon. Even the most uncoordinated bloggers people couldn't help but bop along.

But while Nic was definitely the most energetic, and the focal point, the band was definitely on top of their game, too. They started off with "Get That Rhythm Right" from their new album THRI!!!ER, and just kept ramping up the energy from there. An older song, the frantic "All My Heroes Are Weirdos" had the crowd moving, and the defiant "Californiyeah" rallied people with one of my favourite lyrics of the year so far: "Why would I live somewhere where the bars close at 2? That ain't right, that ain't right"

They suffered from some technical difficulties about half way through, and after trying for a couple minutes to fix it -- while Nic covered for it expertly, joking "this is why we're a dance-punk band, not a dance-rock band!" -- they decided not to lose any more momentum and go right into the next song. Some other highlights from the set included the funky "Slyd", the sexy "Jamie, My Intentions Are Bass", and the groovy "Heart of Hearts" which ended the main set. But of course, they came out for the requisite encore, Nic apologizing a little for some of the technical mistakes throughout the set before vowing to make up for it, as they launched into "Must Be The Moon" and ended with an older tune, "Yadnus" which ended the night off with one hell of a bang. 

I had heard quite a bit of hype before the show, and I would have to say they not only lived up to the hype, but surpassed it. It was one of the most purely fun shows I have been to all year, and I already can't wait to see them again.

setlist
Get That Rhythm Right; All My Heroes Are Weirdos; Jack Ruby; Californiyeah; Even When The Water's Cold; One Girl/One Boy; Except Death; Slyd; Jamie, My Intentions Are Bass; Me and Giuliani Down by the School Yard; Heart of Hearts.
(encore) Must Be the Moon; Yadnus.

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