Just got back from Louisville where I saw !!! at The Headliners Ballroom. It was my first show in Louisville, which is a city I have always muscially admired from a distance. I don’t know what it is about Lousiville but growing up in St Louis, it seemed very far away. Actually, it is closer than Chicago.
I’ve been to Kentucky a few times for outdoor type stuff and one thing that always strikes me is how friendly Kentuckians are. This was no different with regards to the !!! show. We had more complete strangers just come up and start chatting with us at the show than at any other show I have ever been to. If everyone in the world were as friendly as the folks I met in Louisville, the world would be a better place.
Anyway like I said, I have always admired Lousiville’s music scene from the early KBD stuff I have heard by The Endtables thru the major epiphany I had as a teen listening to Squirrel Bait for the first time and on into the 90′s with Rodan and other bands like that. I look forward to going back and hanging out on Bardstown Road. The bars are open til 4:00 AM. Good Times….
But the reason I was in Louisville was to see !!! who I discovered last year at the Touch and Go Festival. If you haven’t heard !!!, they are basically trying to marry the danceability of disco funk with the immediacy of punk rock. Throw in some experimental NYC noise guitar music as well. In fact, thier first 7inch was called The Funky Branca and that about sums it up.
Live, !!! put on an amazing show. The members all play different instruments so it is relatively difficult to talk about the “bass player” or “drummer” or whatever. However, a typical !!! show generally has numerous people on stage; a bunch of them banging away on percussion which any fan of late 70′s NYC funk will appreciate. !!! is unapologetically a dance band and they are all about the beat in the same hypnotic way that a band like ESG was.
With that said, there are some consistencies. Tyler Pope generally holds down the bass end, while Mario Andreoni plays an incredibly unique style of guitar. The two frontmen are John Pugh and Nic Offer and they couldn’t be more different. John Pugh has a higher voice and generally approaches the tunes more melodically while Nic Offer is the great showman and approaches the songs with more of a rythmic punk style. His vocal style is more prominent on the recordings than Pugh’s, but I believe the combination of the two of them help make !!! so unique.
Seeing them at Headliners was more intimate than at T&G where I was way in the back. I got almost up to the stage and !!! put on an amazing (although short) show. I would say that overall it was better than the T&G experience except for one thing. Pugh was not present and taking over for him was a female singer. I don’t know her name but she did a great job filling in. However, they seemed much more conventional with her and I am hoping that Pugh has not quit the band or anything. I was talking with a group of folks after the show who had seen them in Bristol, England last year and the consensus was definitely bring back John Pugh! Anyone who knows more about this, please fill in the blanks.
“Fuck! Those guys are great”, he said. “I am generally a person who does not like to dance and more to the point, I don’t like people who dance at shows.”
“You mean like ravers and clubbers”, I responded.
“Yeah…I hate that shit. But I was shakin’ my ass all over the place. I made a goddam contradiction of myself. I gotta go home and think about this one.”
I think that about sums it up.