[The Go! Team at the Paradise Rock Club, 4/15/2011. Photo by A-Ha.]
[As promised, here's new Clicky Clicky correspondent N-Lo's Go! Team report!]
Hi folks, N-Lo here with my first foray into the Clicky Clicky review world. Glad to be a part of the effort. Hope I don’t hurt anyone.
First, some background: Growing up in the 80’s, I gravitated toward hip-hop and 60’s pop before I smashed my head on the indie rock. I’d steal 12” singles from record stores and spend hours dancing and rapping in my room to LL Cool J, Public Enemy, Whodini, Run DMC, and EPMD trying to figure our where the samples I listened to originated from (quite the project, pre-interwebs). Meanwhile, our family car at the time was a 1974 Mercury Monarch, equipped with only an AM radio. So while I loved rocking out to the Replacements, Sonic Youth, and Dinosaur Jr., I also spent a lot of time both dancing in my bedroom to “You Gots to Chill” and cruising in the Monarch cranking Lulu, Ike & Tina, and the theme from S.W.A.T.
My tastes have been shaped in part by these influences ever since. It’s why I like Beck, the Beastie Boys and Prince, and it’s why I was very eager to catch the Go! Team/Dom show at the Paradise this past Friday. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve reached a certain age where I generally loathe going out on Friday nights, preferring instead to indulge in sweatpants and takeout and beer (oh my). I especially loathe going out to be surrounded by young, thin, energetic people who think mustaches are ironic (and HILARIOUS!) and who usually remind me how I wish I was home with my DVR’d episodes of Archer.
But the Go! Team makes me shed my curmudgeonly ways. It’s impossible, if you have what anyone would call a shakeable ass, to resist the way the kids from Brighton, England mesh their many influences into a funky, hipster meets hip-hop celebration. For those of you who have yet to see the Team live, imagine the funkiest aerobic instructor ever, rapping along to cheerleader-like backing vocals over super catchy riffs, harmonica, recorder and xylophone, and accompanied by Dusty Springfield as arranged by the Bomb Squad and Marvin Hamlisch and you’re on the right track.
Touring in support of their 3rd album Rolling Blackouts, the Team busted out of the gate with said album’s opener "T.O.R.N.A.D.O.," which served in part as a public service announcement for the high energy opening part of the set that also included 2007 single “Grip like a Vice” and crowd favorite “Huddle Formation” (from 2004’s debut Thunder Lightning Strike). ½ pint-sized lead rapper/singer Ninja bounded about the stage, swinging her hair and performing the running man when not delivering her hyper-rhythmic MC Lyte raps (“MC Light?” Sorry.) with an earnestness that belies the irony-loving demographic of her fans. (And indeed, some of Ninja’s “Let me see your hands Boston!” pleas and old school hip-hop crowd imploring moves fell flat with the faux-’Members Only’ crowd. Their loss.).
As much as Ninja can chew the spotlight, the band’s other members have taken a more “hey, over here!” role on the latest album and certainly make their presence prominently felt live. In addition to pogo-ing around like a funky version of Superchunk, the band is constantly switching instruments without breaking stride, if a (huge amount of) sweat. Guitarist/multi-instrumentalist Kaori Tsuchida and drummer Chi Fukami Taylor stepped forward for lead vocals the retro-pop portion of the set which included the somewhat groovy “Secretary’s Day” and far-too-precious “Ready to Go Steady.” That portion of the set resulted in a necessary rest-period for Ninja but also a slight break in momentum. Guitarist/everything else-ist Ian Parton had plenty of highlights, especially on harmonica during the Team’s extended funky instrumental jam sessions that always seem to be a highlight of their show despite the fact that many of them sound like different versions of the same song. There’s also another drummer. And a bass player. They also play other instruments. And pogo. And sing backup. Doing just one thing in a band is obviously so 2003.
But, overly earnest or not, Ninja is the leader of this traveling party (there’s a reason rappers are called MCs) and she came back to up the fun-ante for the last third of the set. She joined Tsuchida on lead vocals for the guitar pop of “Buy Nothing Day” (I squealed at a high pitched frequency and giggled and clapped rapidly when this song started before being reminded by my wife that we were in public) and her deft-tongue and physical acrobatics propelled the crowd into ecstatic celebration on the roller-skating party rap of “Bottle Rocket.”
Encores included latest schoolyard chant-single “Apollo Throwdown” and classic set-ender “Keys to the City” which sent the crowd out onto Comm. Ave sweaty, grateful and ready to continue the party and get called “sluts!” by people in cars driving by.
If I knew what I was getting with The Go! Team, opener Dom was somewhat of a mystery going in. And I’m still not sure i know what they are. I mean, apart from kind of awesome.
The Worcester foursome opened with the surf guitar-cum-Mexicali Minutemen punk of “Crazy Girl” and continued through the hits on their “Sun Bronzed Greek Gods” EP. Dom lead singer Dom is part brat, part prodigy. It was like watching your annoying long-haired little brother pretend to be MGMT doing Miley Cyrus AND My Bloody Valentine at the same time, tongue planted at least halfway in cheek. I might even have found it all incredibly annoying but for the hooks. Oh the hooks. Big hooks. Melodic hooks. Riffy Hooks. Synthy hooks. Some new songs and a sincere cover of Prince’s “Little Red Corvette” later, the band gave everyone what they ate their slices fast for, last year’s hit “Living in America.”
Watching the crowd rush the stage and act like a group of Urban Outfitter-adorned Beliebers reminded me what the best pop music is supposed to do. It’s supposed to make you hum. And dance. And swoon. And it’s supposed to make the young feel like they’re on top of the world.
Dom have the songs. They have the sound. And if Friday night was any indication, they have your kids right where they want them. Boston’s best band just might reside in Worcester and have a song with a chorus of “Happy Birthday Party!”
Deal with it Allston.
The Go! Team: Intertubes | SoundCloud | Twitter
Dom: Intertubes | MySpace | Twitter