First there were 7 and then there 9 (or was it 10?) only for it to seem as if it dropped back to 7 again. !!! are mostly multi-instrumental and partway through the show the drummer becomes the singer, the singer goes back to erratic self fondling style dancing, the keyboardist moves to the drums and some one else becomes a maracca shaker. Watching !!! live is nothing short of having an energetic epihany.
There''s very few area''s into which you can pigeonhole !!! and it wasn''t too far into their second track that you knew this gig was something special. And it could''ve been the announcement from singer Nic Offer that "I''ve split my pants! But I''m just gonna leave it and not change them! I don''t give a f*ck! " that gave it away. Ironically it split during a track also about not giving a f*ck, giving the audience a nearly 90 minute view of his protruding ass cheek in the process. Not giving a f*ck indeed!
There''s a massive energy in each of the individual performances - none of them stop moving the whole time they''re on stage! If they''re not playing they''re dancing, and if they''re not dancing they''re interacting with the crowd or each other! It''s hard to truly understand how moving between mashed up punk, electronic beats and cowbell-like percussion can work with such remarkable ease until you feel the rhythm of !!!, but the superb song-writing, the sheer volume and mind blowing audacity of !!! all combine to create an effect that is best described as jaw dropping post modernist nu punk rock.
"How''d you like that track?" singer Nic Offer cockily asks after the crowd has gone particularly mental. "Could you see the whitelight in that track? It draws you towards it doesn''t it!" It was then that I snapped out of my reverie... !!! have that something special; their music makes you lose yourself. Ass shaking funk, air piercing sirens, a few profanities for well rounded measure, ear-bleeding, stomach crunching crescendos and the most percussive of blinding beats.
Track after track !!! whip the crowd into a crazed frenzy creating total dancefloor anihlation that results in one guy losing it such that he climbs onto the stage and starts hugging singer Nic Offer''s leg all the whilst dancing in the foetal position. Like a true rockstar Nic doesn''t remove the guy, merely he keeps singing and and nonchalantly pointing out the guy to everyone in the crowd.
There''s a lot of percussion in the !!! sound, and they''ve admitted themselves previously that they all "sort of play our instruments as drums" This also partly explains how they all seem to be in 5 places at once, constantly swapping instruments and roles. There''s Mario Andreoni (guitar), Dan Gorman (horns/percussion/keys), Nic Offer (vocals), Tyler Pope (guitar/various electronic devices), John Pugh (drums/vocals), Justin VanDerVolgen (bass/sound) and Allan Wilson (horns/percussion/keys). There''s always a lot going on onstage but it''s definitely at it''s best when second vocalist John Pugh and Nic Offer are sharing the stage. There''s such an appealing contrast in the high''s and lows of their voices (literally) and such a massive stage presence from both that you can''t help but be caught up in where they want to take you with songs such as ''Pardon My Freedom'', Hello? Is this thing on?, Me & Guilani down by the schoolyard (A True Story) and what I think was their own version of Nate & Snoop Dogg''s ''Don''t Tell''.
"You''re not getting a f*cking oncore!" Nic Offer expletes when there''s a chorus of upset from the crowd at the thought of the show ending. "The Manic''s don''t do it and neither do we!" Hand on his hip. "Don''t get f*cking angry with me. It''s just not happening. So put everything you''d put into two tracks into one and just dance!" !!! fans go mental and the show ends in a flurry of stage rushing from fans, and security mistakenly trying to remove guitarist Tyler Pope from the stage amidst laughter from the rest of the group. It''s absolutely mental onstage and they revel in it!
Hearing and seeing !!! live is enough to cause a total epiphany - their music is the real rocking deal and most of all, it''s fun! Post modernist nu punk rock has never sounded so appealing... and it''s a nervy, edgy bug eyed ride from beginning to end. If you only catch one gig this year, !!! should be it!
[i]The new album from !!! "Louden Up Now" is out now! The album is released on double vinyl, standard CD, plus a limited double disc version featuring a free bonus disc with Maurice Fulton mixes, intrumentals and extra trax. [/i]