Friday, November 04, 2005

Live Review: The Go! Team @ Metro 10/29/05

So, I thought the thing with Brits was that they like to lounge on sofas, wearing black clothing and an overall despondent demeanor that prohibits them from moving; they like drinks straight up and chain smoking and complaining about all that is beneath them, which is everything, which means that they will never, ever, write happy pop tunes about not being defeated, and about everyone being a V.I.P., and they will never, ever, wear little black skirts and fluorescent orange tops and fuzzy pink antennas while jumping around a stage, singing about rocking the microphone. And never. Never ever. Never will they giggle. This wasn’t just a Halloween performance. This wasn’t a British band in disguise. This is how The Go! Team always is. On my way to the show I knew that I wasn’t going to be able to sit back and listen. M.C. Ninja made it her job to get everyone moving, everyone participating. Whether it was chit chatting with the crowd in that hyper British accent everyone at the Metro Saturday night was too drunk to understand, or trying to conduct a massive crowd cheer, she was not satisfied with solely owning the spotlight. It was a whirlwind of a show, clocking in about an hour with the gang running through several tracks off its album Thunder, Lightning, Strike, and also trying out some new tunes. It’s odd that a band so eclectic in nature-mixing guitars and electronics and sampling and brass orchestrations and an ever changing soundtrack-could at the same time be a band absolutely meant to be seen live. Ian Parton is the mastermind behind this outfit and easy to miss onstage; he was everywhere and nowhere at once, humbly moving among instruments, keeping the flow going while Ninja upfront worked the crowd. They played to the backdrop of pop art screen projection, a tactic I don’t think I’ve ever before seen utilized at the Metro. During surging pop rockers like “We Just Won’t Be Defeated” the stage was alive with all the members of the team coming together in frantic euphoria. For the soft and sweet “Hold Yr Terror Close” it cleared, leaving drummer Chi Fukami Taylor alone to lead us in a jaunty sway. The group returned for “Huddle Formation,” and with characteristic animation Ninja divided the crowd in half for a group cheer. I was on the “Team! Team-team! Team!” side. And yes, I took my duty seriously and actually shouted aloud. So did everyone. Perhaps Ninja appeals to the wounded inner cheerleader in all of us. So maybe the Brits have moved on without we yanks realizing it. Maybe we’re behind in the times so that now it’s our music that’s drab and mechanized and pretentious. But I like to think that it’s not as simple as that, and that The Go! Team is really something special. The idea of this band is kind of annoying, and if you let them, they’ll sound like some hip hop entrepreneur trying to mix the Spice Girls and make it kitschy cool. But that’s not the ultimate effect of Parton and company. Recorded there’s sophisticated layering of dance beats and rockin’ hooks and catchy phrases and bluesy harmonica that sounds not contrived but spontaneous. On stage there’s a reigning of this impulsive sound so that anything that, for a lesser live act, could be messy and strident and just plain irritating, is actually a pleasure to listen to. And to dance to. Don’t forget the dancing.

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