I am so glad this band returned to their original name. The Portland dance pop squad initially altered their moniker because of the media attention they were receiving from the funloving but thorny “Starfucker” to the somewhat bland “Pyramid.” Apparently you just don’t feature a band called Starfucker in a TV commercial. With the release of their second LP (after a slew of EPs), Reptilians, the original name is back, although they will also tour as the more marquis friendly “STRFKR.” I think the original fits them.
This quartet’s live setup of drums, heavy synth, two guitars, a bass and some dreamy vocals make irreverent, often joyful dance songs, always with a small hint of grime and grit under the shoegazey pop and pulsing beats. Think fellow Portlanders Delorean with more of a live-band feel. I first learned of this band from my girlfriend, and my thought process went, “any band that can get girls dancing this easily and this often is worth checking out.”
Due to my own hectic work schedule, I arrived a song or so into Champagne Champagne’s set and was immediately impressed. I’m always on the lookout for new hip hop acts, and this trio was rocking it. Champagne Champagne’s two MCs and single producer were dropping bass heavy beats and really getting the crowd into it. It can be hard to open for a headliner whose fans are mostly hipsters—who knows if anybody will even give you the time of day—Champagne Champagne’s ability to get the densely packed Urban crowd bouncing along speaks volumes for their showmanship. “Soda & Pop Rocks” and “HollyWood Shampoo” off their self-titled release were particularly popular. One of my favorite beats from this group all night was a song where the chorus lyrics seemed to be “Starfucker, we got a Starfucker” or something similar. I have since tried to find a recording of this song with no luck. I can only guess that it was something they worked up while on tour this spring, but it was awesome and it hinted at what would happen later.
They finished up their nice long set and cleared the stage for the main attraction as people pressed in close. Urban Lounge was packed to the brim and everyone seemed to be in a good mood at this point. Then came the low point of the evening. Now, I know that the band had played a show already that night, across town at Kilby Court, and might’ve been pressed for time, but the sound check was way too long. I’m not blaming the band or the venue, and I’m really not trying to hate, but it needs to be said. Especially when the opening hip hop act has almost no stage gear, it just shouldn’t take an hour to sound check. The crowd got restless, tired and probably a little drunk. The patio outback was dense with cigarette smoke and irritated grumbles.
When Starfucker finally took the stage sometime after midnight they immediately made up for the extended wait, laying down their characteristic brand of breezy hooks and steady dance beats. These guys are a blast to see—one of those rare bands where you will have just as good a time if you’ve never heard their stuff and don’t know all the words. You can and will, nay must, dance to all of it! The choruses are huge and dense and the bass persistent and thumping. Most of the material was from their new record, including lead single “Julius” with its insistent piano melody and “Bury Us Alive” with its wistful electro. Classics like “Rawnald Gregory Erickson the Second” also made a few appearances. This song is fantastic with its layered guitars and cutesy vocals. It’s one of the first songs I heard from this band and still one of the best. One of my favorites from the new album is “Memory Cloud” which was even better live as the upbeat tempo kept the crowd on their toes. They even busted out their popular cover of Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Want to Have Fun.”
Now this is where it got really interesting. After a great set, Starfucker were joined onstage by their tour mates Champagne Champagne to perform a couple of collaborative tracks. This was amazing! It was one of the highlights of spring. Starfucker’s lush electro acted as production for some tight rhymes and allowed both bands demonstrated their natural showmanship. Once again, if these songs were available somewhere, I would buy them, ‘cause they fucking rocked. This was some of the best, most energetic playing I have seen recently, and the eight guys crowding the relatively small Urban Lounge stage was quite a sight. The band had enough time for one more, and then politely told the crowd that because of the late start and the current time, we all had to get out ASAP as it was just past 2 a.m. and the law is very clear. It could’ve been disappointing, but that wasn’t the feel I got from the crowd. Most people were sweaty, laughing and in a good mood. I guess a really good dance party with two awesome bands will do that to you.