STRFKR at Metro Chicago 9/17/2013

There have been a fury of acts with phonetic spelling, like SBTRKT and TNGHT, who have swept their way through electronic music the last couple of years. Indie-pop sensation, STRFKR, is no exception as they took the stage for the first leg of their tour at Metro this week.

Remember when I said, “I can’t believe these guys are from Portland?” I take it back. This crew is DEFINITELY from Portland. Fresh from the local thrift shop, the quartet looked like they were extras from the show Portlandia. Joshua Hodges may have been wearing a dress. [Ed. Note: Muumuu. For sure.] The only thing more goofy than the band was the crowd. Concert goers looked like a cross between Revenge of the Nerds and Flight of the Concords.

That’s neither here, nor there because their theatrical stage set up was enough to make you forget about all of that. I will say one thing about the crowd. Hardly anyone was taking pictures or videos from their smart phones, which definitely gives them some street cred and enhanced the overall experience of the show. Trust me, you won’t want to see your pics or video in the morning. You’ll be happy they just enjoyed the show.

I wish the stage had better lighting, because it was DARK in the venue. The front of the stage was hazy as silhouettes were about all we could see from the crowd, regardless of vantage point. Thankfully, STRFKR played a colorful set and put out positive vibes all night. The big screen behind the drummer flashed with bright lights in all shapes, sizes and colors that hit on each beat. It looked like a scene out of Studio 54, which gave the gig a real retro feel.

The band fought through some technical difficulties, as Hodges was visibly frustrated. His voice tells another story, though. Each song was joyful and filled with bliss. Keyboard strokes were light and glitzy. Each strum on the guitar was prominent, even for the tracks that were pretty chill. The environment felt buoyant, keeping the crowd uplifted for the full ninety minutes.

All of a sudden, the stage hands started tossing blow up dolls in the crowd, and I mean they were EVERYWHERE. Ok. Ok. You have our attention. It looked like mid-afternoon at Lolla on Perry’s Stage. I laughed, and so did everyone else. The whole bit was funny for a second, but twenty minutes in… Those dolls are just fucking annoying–especially during a great song. Either way, that moment was the turning point where they really picked up the pace. Hodges would drop to one knee and wail on the guitar. Lots of crowd participation with heads bobbing, fist pumping and feet dancing.

It was their first night back on tour, and I think they were trying to get their bearings. The show was different than when they played in the spring with Blackbird, Blackbird, but people were having fun, you know? Just another Tuesday night at the club. A blend of rock, pop and a touch of the 80s. This is the kind of electronic show I can dig on a school night.

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