All words and photos by Shauna Alexander
I’ll be honest, my love for !!! is unyielding and I was really looking forward to the chance to experience/praise the electro-indie-dance band… But first, a moment to gush over the opener, Aussie avant-garde rockers, Pivot. And all I can say is… holy fuck.
Seriously. I say this with extreme emphasis. In fact I’m going to bold this bad boy… If you ever get the chance to see Pivot live (because you were lame and missed them at the Cat on Saturday night) you must go. I repeat you must go. I almost missed their set after running from BYT’s last summer camp, but walked in just as the band was kicking off their second jam. I’m not one for comparing bands to other bands, but if you need a simple synopsis of their sound, just look to their Warp Records labelmates Aphex Twin or Battles for some guidance — that is, if they had more rock muscle behind them. Me? Well, I just want to call them fucking awesome.
Pivot was once a five piece improv band, but now turned a threesome with a tumultuously ominous sound from down unda. Citing inspiration in Vandelis (you might know them name… see: Blade Runner soundtrack), Pivot is a quite dark instrumental effort who put on one hell of a live show. I mean, Pivot rocked the stage of the Cat, all three members playing their hearts out as I nearly lost my hearing amidst a sea of intrigued and anxious concertgoers. Ear damage (however worthy it was) aside, Pivot’s front man Richard Pike made his guitar squeal and hiss as he jerked around stage in true rock-and-rolla form. Brother Laurence Pike commended his drum kit with the expertise of a seasoned professional, offering the right kicks, licks and crashes to emphasize just how lush and porous their sound could become.
Heavy with the effects, Pivot had the crowd mesmerized by the time they played In The Blood, a punchy number that nearly knocked me over with it’s howling melody and heavy reliance on the bass and drum. You can see the influence veteran rockers, Sigur Ros, have had on them (Pivot toured with them last year) to really make their stage presence top notch. I was constantly in awe, and even spent quite some time with my eyes peering through my camera lens just to gawk with astonishment. I give some major kudos to Dave Miller, the maestro with the Macbook, who undoubtedly kept the bands crunching guitars and in-your-face drums together with his pristine electronic stylings. It’s no wonder Brian Eno found these guys fascinating and invited them to join in on the Luminous Festival, curated at the Sydney Opera House this past June.
Immediately after Pivot’s set, I peeled myself away from the stunned audience and headed to the merch table to buy their cd, O Soundtrack My Heart, which just dropped a little more than a year ago. Miller was there happily discussing the record with intrigued fans and genuinely seemed impressed by the response DC had to their set. I would be too, it’s not every day you get a group of DC wallflowers up moving and grooving (especially when you’re an opener). Needless to say, O Soundtrack My Heart has indeed become the soundtrack for the gloomy days of late. Get the album and you’ll know exactly what I mean.
Like I said above, I adore !!!. They happen to be the go-to band on my iPod when I’m cleaning my room (which may not happen as frequently as I’d like, but you know….) or need some beats to keep me awake while working well into the morning light. After the intensity of Pivot, I was certainly amplified for !!! (pronounced Chk Chk Chk if you don’t know that by now). As promised Nic Offer, frontman extradinaire, came out with guns blazing and his hips shaking as if he was trying to outdo Shakira! His style (and his look) actually reminds me of Ed Macfarlane (of Friendly Fires fame) which only made me absolutely thrilled to finally catch them live.
!!! brought their dance-punk beats to the Cat… and the crowd ate it up! Everyone within view was shimmying, shaking, gyrating and flailing as the band showcased old hits and new numbers that were promised to be on their upcoming album. And as the temperature raised from excess body heat due to all the dancing kids (literally. I could have sworn the girls next to me were sixteen), Offer shed the layers and dove into the crowd, making his way through throngs of concertgoers, letting everyone rip and pull at him as if he was some sort of demi-god. I mean, seriously, this man can move and he commands a mic with plenty of charisma to match. So naturally the crowd went bananas… if only a break dance battle had erupted, then I would have surely thought I was on another planet! DC kids getting down? At the Cat?! I’m still flabbergasted. But I have to say this… I’ve seen this performance before (see: Friendly Fires many months earlier) and I expected just a wee bit more than some shaking hips and some staple front-man movements.
!!!’s music, plain and simple, will put a smile on anyone’s face. I expect a dance band to be fun and entertaining, and yes, !!! brought a level of electricity I haven’t seen at the Cat for quite sometime. From the dancing saxophonist who doubled as tambourine man and keyboardist, to their technically proficient guitarist, !!! definitely impressed me with their moves but the live show was just missing something…. What? I just can’t say. Maybe it was the fact that I was so blown away by Pivot, that !!! just didn’t match up to the hype I had created after too many nights sucking down a bottle of wine and folding my laundry. No matter what, it was a great show with a surprisingly decent (and engaging) crowd, which made this show an absolute success in my book.