For those who have seen !!! live before, lead singer Nic Offer's hotpants shouldn't come as any surprise, nor should his flamboyantly delightful dance styles. What's changed this time around for Offer is a haircut, shedding his boyish, curly locks. Oh, that and his band has a new album out, the bulk of which constituted their set last night.
Tempe fans were in for a unique treat last night as this is !!!'s second stop on a massive world tour in support of Strange Weather. It was the first time that the catchingly-refrained "The Most Certain Sure" was played live by the band, according to Offer and supporting vocalist Shannon Funchess. Having only played LA before Tempe allowed the band's fans to witness a decidedly Strange Weather-heavy set, featuring "AM/FM," "Jamie, My Intentions Are Bass," "Steady As The Sidewalk Cracks" and "Hollow." They all played rather well, save the sluggish, puzzling "Hollow," every song whipping the band into a frenzied mass of sweaty dance moves. Few non-Strange Weather songs were played, but those that were ("Must Be The Moon," "Heart of Hearts") were absolutely transcendent.
After a tight, hour-long set, !!! returned for a one-song encore, much to the delight of the fans. The one song they chose, "Yadnus," was -- like "Moon" and "Hearts" before it -- off of 2007's masterpiece Myth Takes
. I knew when the band ripped into the song, however, that it couldn't live up to anything they had already played. "Yadnus" is the swan song of former !!! member John Pugh, now of Free Blood
. "Yadnus" is his baby, and to see him perform it live, with his blue-eyed soul and guttural yearning, is awe-inspiring. But Pugh left !!! in the middle of 2007, so Shannon Funchess did her best last night to fill in. She did an admirable job, but I am one of the lucky (or perhaps cursed) ones in attendance last night to have seen Pugh perform "Yadnus" live.
You know what, though? Pugh left the band, leaving them with a pretty gaping hole as far as performing certain songs from their first three albums is concerned. This is why last night's set was mainly comprised of Strange Weather songs -- it's the first album !!! has recorded without Pugh. Funchess has taken over his role, and she does her particular songs "Wannagin, Wannagin" brilliantly. Shannon Funchess, however, is no John Pugh.
People in attendance last night could probably give a rat's ass about all that, though, and so could the band. They had the crowd eating out of the palm of their hand from the get-go, and things only slowed down once the house lights came on. It was a fantastic sentiment for an infectiously fun live band.
Critic's Bias: If you couldn't already tell, I have seen !!! live before. In fact, this was my third time seeing them. It's been a while since I've seen them, and I won't explicitly give the date as to when I saw them last, but I will offer this as a hint -- their set was at The Brickhouse and the after-party was at Homme.
The Crowd: A fun mix, predominantly younger. Everyone, save for a few people in the back sitting down, brought their dancing hats and/or fedoras.
Overheard In The Crowd: "Best show I've ever seen in my life," "Deerhunter!"
Random Notebook Dump: "Nic crowd dancing," "Spuds McKenzie,"Turning down requests for Rapture songs"