Monday, August 29, 2011

!!! at LouFest: Review

Posted By on Mon, Aug 29, 2011 at 7:18 AM

PHOTO BY NICK SCHNELLE
  • Photo by Nick Schnelle

!!! Blue Stage | 6 p.m.

Nic Offer has an amazing ass. Despite the unquestionable truth of this statement, it would sound like a sexual advance if that ass weren't the backbone of his band !!!'s live performance -- the seat of its power, shall we say. He starts shaking it early, and he keeps shaking it until the asses of at least three-quarters of the crowd are also shaking theirs. This doesn't take very long.

In person, that ass goes a long way, especially swathed in jewel-tone shortie shorts that no one this side of Jazzercise instructors and Nic Offer can pull off, but it's also backed up by pulsating grooves and an overwhelming portion of sass. !!! is one thing indoors, but the Sacramento band's outdoor festival shows are notorious for their legitimately palpable sass. (You could cut it with a knife, but why would you want to?) Watching !!! live leaves you waxing nostalgic about that time you wore feathers to a club -- or wondering about LCD Soundsystem pre-DFA. !!! began its time with the danceable post-punk revival thing roughly five years earlier, and while the second band announced its end earlier this year, its west coast co-revivalists have stopped only for three-year breaks between voluptuous dance-rock albums.

Things move pretty fast at !!! shows: Less than a minute into the first song, Offer took to the top of an amp. About a millisecond after that, he was dancing on it. His moves split the divide between campy and raunchy with a strange grace and hypnotizing fervor.

Twenty seconds later, we realized how tight his shorts were. One song after that, he was dancing so hard sweat seeped from his (also jewel-tone) shirt. By the second song, the distinct scent of weed became pervasive. By the third one, we realized we were letting complete strangers see our own dance moves. By the time the band got to the groovy dance-porn track "Must Be the Moon," we realized we didn't care.

At a !!! show, if you're not baby-makin', you should at least be booty-shakin'. While Offer's kinetic energy was at least three times that of his fellow band members, the remainder of the group (eight people are credited as current members online, but that number was smaller onstage) created flamboyant beats while subtly aiding the transition into mellow grooves as the set covered territory culled from four albums. We don't need eight Offers, after all. The dynamic (between the singer and the instrumental members, who are unafraid to occasionally break it down themselves) is clearly important to whatever behind-the-scenes creative process ends in flashy, intoxicating dance jams and the kinky moves with which to express them on top of an amp. When the set ended with "Heart of Hearts," the sudden halt in crowd dancing became the show's only awkward moment, followed by the second and final realization that we had all been dancing for an hour.

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