I always look forward to a night with !!! (aka Chk Chk Chk). If you’ve ever thought “hey, I kind of enjoy this dancing thing!”, look no further than these New Yorker’s to serve up the tunes you need to feel groovy.
Opening for !!! was a local band by the name of Maiwah. I’d never heard of them before, which is why I was quite surprised to recognize the keyboardist and guitarist from on-hiatus local Vancouver band Facts. I suppose local bands are probably much more incestuous than I realize, but it was still a cool moment. After the show, I chatted with guitarist Sean Bletcher about their new sound, to which he responded, “We got f***in’ moody!” And an apt description that is. Maiwah brews a dangerously provocative cocktail of throbbing bass lines and soaring keys, capped off with the luscious vocals of singer Kristie McCracken. With big rock choruses to show off their pop chops and verses full of 80’s synths blended with smooth jazz to appeal to the blackest of hearts, Maiwah really showed off the incredible versatility off their sound.
An extremely pleasant surprise when !!! first came out was the addition of a second singer. Watching the two of them was an exercise in enjoying the gentle irony of juxtaposition, in so many ways. While frontman Nic Offer was his characteristic sloppy, ridiculous self, the gal accompanying him on stage (whom unfortunately I do not know the name of) was composed, fierce, and absolutely brilliant. Together they were a power couple, pairing so-stupid-they’re-awesome synchronized dance moves with their own unique singing styles.
I must admit, the singer in me was mildly annoyed – Offer has a way of holding a microphone that’s best described as “seductive” (or creepy, depending on how attractive you find him – I lean towards seductive), but it’s absolutely the worst possible way to hold a microphone for vocal clarity. The result is that I can barely hear a word he says. His partner, on the other hand, looks like she was born with that thing in her hand. But that’s part of the charm and his act…. I tell myself, through gritted teeth.
Really though, you don’t go to a !!! concert for the words: You go for the absolutely mad atmosphere. There was barely a moment to breathe the whole set, as they churned out beat after beat, banger after banger. Despite playing almost entirely things from their very recently released album, Shake the Shudder, no one had any trouble getting into the groove. !!! is not a band that rides on the coattails of their singles; instead, they just make every song sound great and easy to dance to, and bring the groove to the people. Of course, it helps immensely that Offer is dripping in sweat by the end of the first tune. He made several forays into the crowd, and I was unlucky enough to get the opportunity to give him a pat on the back. It’s alright though. I’ve accepted the fact that, after concerts like this, most of the sweat on me probably isn’t mine.
The second encore was quite the treat, particularly as it was so clear the the band didn’t expect it. After their first encore, the house music came on and people started leaving – standard stuff, really. But not everyone was leaving; many stayed, and continued cheering. Admittedly, the set had felt woefully short, and it was clear that the crowd was not sated by the one song encore had no. And boy, am I glad I stayed. Despite not having played it in quite some time, they absolutely destroyed the last remnants of my energy with “Must Be the Moon”. Being there with all the hardcore fans, the ones that stayed to bleed the band dry – that’s an experience I won’t soon forget.