What the hell is dance-punk?
If you look at that question and find yourself visualizing an answer rather than vocalizing an oral response, then !!! should be on your list of upcoming must-see shows. For those not in the know, it’s pronounced Chk Chk Chk and they are quite possibly one of the most entertaining musical acts to grace a stage these days. Led by the ever-animated frontman Nic Offer and backed by a smattering of guitars, horns, various percussion and other electronic devices, these unconventional rockers know how to start a dance party and keep it going throughout the night.
Dance-punk has seen a reemergence in the past decade thanks to acts like LCD Soundsystem, Death From Above 1979 and other notables such as Klaxons, but what sets !!! apart from the rest is their smooth blend of house beats with copious elements of funk and enough angst to have you thrashing about the dancefloor with rhythmic intent while continuing to be pushed forward instead of being caught in a tidepool of cadence. If an ocean’s waves are considered a metaphor for the ebb and flow of music, then !!! is the mighty Colorado River running through the Grand Canyon: It’s wild, ferocious and untamed while still being confined to a path of forward progression. There is no getting out of its way—you have to let yourself go down the path of least resistance and trust that you will be carried safely through. People say “let the river be your guide,” and at !!!’s live performances, it quickly becomes apparent that the members of the band are asking you to let them be your guide. Follow their lead and you could be in for the ride of your life. Don’t, and you may just get run over.
Take !!!’s last Portland performance—playing to a completely packed house at the far too small Bunk Bar, Offer found himself continually flung into a maxed out crowd of crazed dancing loons who had shoved chairs, tables and anything else they found in their way to the furthest edges of the restaurant. Performing the majority of the show in just a T-shirt and boxers, he tackled crowd members, danced atop the bar, and even managed to withdraw cash midperformance from an inconveniently located ATM before proceeding to rip it up and confetti the crowd with it.
After playing through more than a full set’s worth of material, he and the band weren’t ready to throw in the towel and continued to play late into the night, even taking requests from the crowd. With sweat pouring off his and everyone else’s bodies, Offer ended the evening by taking off his shirt, holding it high above his head, and wringing the contents into his wide-open mouth below. How’s that for a visual representation of dance-punk?
This time around, !!! find themselves in a more accommodating venue at the Doug Fir Lounge. A far better sound system and plenty more room for dancing will offer both the band and their legion of followers the opportunity to showcase what dance-punk is truly all about on Thursday, March 26.
Plus, Portland's Hosannas were recently added as openers. Formed by brothers Richard and Brandon Laws, this experimental electronic, dance, pop band was named one of Willamette Week’s Best New Bands back in 2010 and has steadily churned out likeable tunes and good times since, including an opening gig for Ariel Pink back in February. For a small taste, check out the song “Good Medicine” (below), which we ranked as one of our Top 25 Overlooked Songs of 2014!