When STRFKR flubs, they flub with grace. As “While I’m Alive” — their supposed last song of the evening last night (November 27) at Royale — got cut short after some instrumental discord, lead singer Joshua Hodges just chuckled and admitted to the blunder. “We fucked up. That’s the first time that’s ever happened, so that’s actually a special moment,” Hodges admitted. “It’s like you’re at practice with us.”
They patched things together with starry-eyed “Julius” and tactfully proceeded with their historic moment.
Tweaking their synths to hail intergalactic communication, the Portland band transformed Royale from a sloshy mess of a dancehall into a den of dazed stargazers. Starting with two sunny tracks from 2013’s Miracle Mile — “Atlantis” and “Malmo” — the haze of STRFKR’s fuzzed-out indie descended upon the crowd, and didn’t leave until they had recited more than 20 songs.
The vibrations of STRFKR’s jams blur between disco and psychedelia, always with smart basslines and simple but snappy drums to maintain a steady indie rock element. The real determining factor as to where their sound meanders lies in the synths, which can range from the power-glam of “Bury Us Alive,” to the optimistic lo-fi of “Open Your Eyes”; both of which shimmered when played live, despite their sonic differences.
STRFKR is, above all, a tease. If their project’s name isn’t enough of a misnomer (pronounced “star-fucker,” you’d think doom metal would ensue), the title of new their album is. This month’s Being No One, Going Nowhere, their first release since the aforementioned Miracle Mile, contains not one, but two lies in the title, and undersells the group’s well-earned and still-growing potential. When four performers clad in astronaut suits strutted onstage, it was almost a given that everyone was about to witness the indie clan shred ‘n’ jam from behind tinted helmets. Alas, the members of opening act and Polyvinyl labelmates Psychic Twin were actually masquerading in the suits, spraying confetti, flying a drone over the heads of fans, and crowdsurfing in inflatable rafts.
Despite the confusion, Hodges’ glitzy blue minidress and ratty blonde wig seemed to appease, and the neon intoxicating visuals behind the band ranked as Tame Impala-level trippy, but could barely be seen by the fans lolling their heads, eyes closed, to the music.
Perhaps most remarkable of all is Hodges’ ability to endearingly mumble lyrics in the exact same manner as every studio version of STRFKR songs. When performed live, the murmurs don’t necessarily inspire much sing-along action. Before the encore, Hodges uttered the most monotone cover of “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” to date and still had hipsters fawning.
By the encore, the glitch in “While I’m Alive” marked the only aspect of the show that anyone could complain about — and even that earned the lengthy set another song and a much-need addition to the night from 2011 LP Reptilians. In 90 minutes, STRFKR dazzled Royale in a way that’s usually reserved for either of the two words in the band’s name.
Being No One, Going Nowhere our ass.
Follow Victoria Wasylak on Twitter @VickiWasylak.