One of the best things about seeing live shows is you never know what you're going to get. You might think you have a pretty good grasp on a band's music. You might have listened to their albums a number of times. You might even have friends who have told you the band is great to see live. And though your only expectation of going to the show is to have a good time, you end up getting something completely different. STRFKR's show this past Friday Union Transfer was like that. I didn't have a good time. I had a blast.
STRFKR (pronounced star-rhymes-with-ducker), an electronic indie pop band from Portland, put out their fourth album Miracle Mile (released on Polyvinyl Records) earlier this year. Their music often gets compared to that of Passion Pit, MGMT, and Cut Copy, and though there are some definite similarities, I don't think any of these comparisons are fair.
For one, STRFKR grooves. Not all indie electro bands do. Actually, many of them don't. But what's unique about STRFKR's groove is, not that they have one, but what they do with it.
From the shiny glam track "Atlantis," to the new agey "Golden Light, to the thomping "While I'm Alive,' STRFKR's groove is flavorful and diverse.
But none of their songs groove harder than, "Leave It All Behind." This is my favorite track on Miracle Mile. Throughout the album STRFKR flirts with funk, but with this one they get down and dirty. There's a breakdown in the middle of the song that feels like an electrofied version of Sly & The Family Stone.
Joshua Hodges (the mastermind and original founder of the group) describes STRFKR's music as "pop music that you can dance to." Despite the abundance of groove on Miracle Mile, I thought this was an interesting description, because I wouldn't call most of the songs on the album all that danceable. Except for the aforementioned smasher "Leave It All Behind," and perhaps also "While I'm Alive," the tracks are a tad too slow to dance to. Most of them are mid-tempo; a few are even sedate.
But then you listen to STRFKR's music at a live show?
Wow. Completely different story.
It turns out Hodges' description was spot-on. There were maybe only one or two songs the entire night that didn't make you want to pull up your dance pants, because pretty much the entire night was nothing but a straight-up dance party.
The only thing I regret about going to the show was going in four-inch heels. They're not very conducive to dancing. I guess I could've asked to borrow the Adidas throwbacks from the guy in front of me, because he clearly wasn't using them. He took his shoes off towards the end of the show and I'm not sure why. Maybe he needed a break from doing the liquid wave. Or maybe a glowstick capsule got stuck between his toes. Either way, his raunchy feet were the only part of the show that stunk.
Everything else was insanely fun.
Though, even if you did have expectations going into the STRFKR show, they probably would've been blown right out of the Transfer.
I mean, sure, you probably could've expected the laser lights. And maybe, if you already expected it, you wouldn't have been quite as delighted as everyone else was when the oodles of balloons were unleashed upon us. But there's no way you could've expected life-sized dancing bunnies. There's no way you could've expected an astronaut humping an inflatable raft he was crowd-surfing with. And there's absolutely no way you could've expected that, just for a split second, you'd be kicking yourself in the ass for not learning how to tut in college when you had the chance. None of these are things you can mentally prepare for.
But if you're going to a STRFKR show, and you have to plan for just one thing, then plan for the unexpected.