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All words: Mauhan Z.
All photos: Daniela Toleva

Have you ever wanted a band to rock so badly that your naval tickled?

Well, the alt-synth-pop-rock-whatever foursome, Starfucker (or STRFKR in disemvowelment form), kept tickling my naval pink during their set at the 9:30 Club Wednesday night. After a solid opening by Mikey Maramag’s solo outfit, Blackbird Blackbird, Joshua Hodges and crew came on stage to be greeted by a thunderous bawl of teen angst.

Heads down in modesty, the members of STRFKR lead into a psychedelic instrumental opening. Two songs in and the group casually trade their instruments on stage. They hadn’t said a word yet, but their message is clear: “Your brand of musical chairs is archaic and n00b-ish.”

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At this point, I am ready to get all sorts of post junior-prom weird. But as STRFKR taps into their track list off their latest album, Miracle Mile, I’m still just two stepping in the back. The lyrics are mumbled, the aggression is constrained, and the band members are wearing men’s clothing – what the fuck? I mean, the show sold out – this has to be great, right?

Eh. The show is ‘cool’ the same way your sister’s boyfriend is ‘nice.’ As in, there isn’t much else to say about it. But, a writer has got to write, so here’s your blurb:

STRFKR kept the hipsters jiving in their drop-crotch pants with dance-worthy synth beats and grooved the wunderlusters with their mind-fucking triptronic sounds. Lead man, Joshua Hodges, penetrated our souls with deep, lyrical reflections. In the end, the band’s laid-back energy was so contagious that we all melted into a mushy, gushy, wave of chill.

That poppycock is poppycock. Everyone in this house is desperately waiting for something loud and passionate. Chill isn’t chill. Stop chilling, STRFKR, stop chilling so G-darn hard. Play your instruments louder, and get super snythy on “While I’m Alive” and “Atlantis” – perhaps the two best tracks on your new album.

Maybe I set the bar too high. For starters, any band that originates in Portland, OR already gets a 5.0-5.9 on my personal Richter due to my skinny jeans and fixed gear bias. So these star fuckers already have a leg up. Plus, their hit “Rawnald Gregory Erickson the Second” off their self-titled debut was so simple and catchy. They could be playing that jam on repeat right now and this review would be slightly more “Everything was awesome!”

On the other hand, there are things that are keeping my attention at the show. For starters, the backdrop is a ginormous Lite-Brite on acid and is absolutely rad. The band’s chemistry and control of their instruments is impressive as well. Even more striking, the quality of talent on Tinder during the show was phenomenal. All that gets me through the show without much of a concern. STRFKR is doing just enough to keep me lingering.

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By the finale, there is a gang of bunny suits, astronauts, and Gumbies raging face on stage and throwing balloons into the crowd. Finally, I realize why I’m not appreciating the show more. If taken in the context of a high school band, STRFKR is absolutely breathtaking. This level of musical talent and showmanship is above and beyond most 16-year-olds. They definitely deserve to win the talent show.

The only itty-bitty problem is that the members of STRFKR, as you may have guessed, are at least 19, and this isn’t my high school auditorium. For that reason, I’m heading to American Ice for eight pickle-backs by the start of the encore.

I came to the 9:30 Club for some synthy electronica disco and serious star fucking. Clearly, dis ain’t no star fucking and disco.

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