What's a band to do en route to next week's SXSW? Perhaps spend a night on Grand Ave. in Phoenix at Trunk Space whilst they make their way to Austin? Such was the more than decent decision by Portland indie/electronic outfit Starfucker. March is a busy time for the band -- their second full-length Reptilians hit stores this past Tuesday and they are on the verge of five separate SXSW shows. No show is too big for the guys in Starfucker, and nothing proved this more than their set at a sold-out Trunk Space last night.
I'm gonna say this right now, and it may come as a shock to some -- Phoenix is not Austin. It's impossible to compete with Austin right about now as the town gears up for its 25th annual SXSW Music Festival. But this does not mean that Phoenix simply doesn't matter. No -- Phoenix is a hot commodity right now for those bands based out of the West Coast who just so happen to be headed east towards Austin for SXSW. What better way to shake all the cobwebs and get rid of all the nerves than to play a set in the Valley of the Sun? It's truly a help me, help you relationship, with Phoenix fans coming out on top as the big winners.
Starfucker finally took to the stage after an admittedly laborious sound check, dimmed the lights and turned on their laser light show-inspired effects. Red, green and blue lights danced across the walls in pre-arranged patterns. No metaphor could have been more perfect for the showmanship that Starfucker has come to embody. The fans in attendance expected a workmanlike performance from the band, and that is exactly what they got -- a finely-tuned electronic music band playing tight versions of some of their more popular songs. Newer tracks from their just released sophomore album Reptilians were warmly received, yet once the band ripped into perhaps their most famous song -- "Rawnald Gregory Erickson the Second
" -- the audience threw their collective hands in the air in a fit of joy, even managing to help lead singer Joshua Hodges with the song's scattered vocals.
Newer songs like "Julius," "Born" and "Bury Us Alive" sounded deftly crisp -- as if they were ready for a grand debut at SXSW. Sure, Phoenix can't hold a candle to what Austin has coming up this week -- hell, no city has what Austin has in SXSW -- yet last night felt like it was a cozy (read: cramped) little SXSW showcase for Starfucker. And why the hell not think as much? The band showed an incredible readiness -- a succinct polish which will overwhelm, if nothing else, the forthcoming, eager SXSW crowds. It's as if there were was a contingency of SXSW officials in the crowd last night armed with clipboards, ready to approve or disprove Starfucker from their hallowed festival. Suffice to say that the band passed the test.
Last Night: Starfucker at Trunk Space
The Crowd: Hipsters young and old
Personal Bias: Starfucker is from Portland, Oregon -- my hometown. I have written about them twice, now, in print as well as seeing them live twice.
Random Notebook Dump: It is amazing how long this sound check is taking. Why is there no sort of elevated stage at this venue? Even PHiX had some sort of stage -- even if it was about a foot above the ground.
One More Thing
: The Target commercial "Pink Pepto
" --that features Starfucker's "Rawnald Gregory Erickson the Second" -- was created by noted Portland ad agency Weiden + Kennedy
. That helps explain how a band with a name like Starfucker got their music in a commercial for Target.