While I was waiting for Sleigh Bells to take to the River Stage at Bluesfest, I ventured over to the seemingly quarantined Electro stage and was pleasantly surprised.
Daring California dance punkers !!! (if you must verbalize or search them on Google "chk chk chk") were playing to a small yet dedicated Ottawa crowd.
!!! formed in 1996 when members of Sacramento bands Black Liquorice, Popesmashers and the Yah Mos joined together in a new venture. Their self-titled debut dropped in 2000, and their latest, and fourth full-length, Strange Weather, Isn't It?, was released in 2010.
I had heard a few of !!!'s songs on an indie compilation a few years back and enjoyed their upbeat sound. However, as I exited the cool comfort of the Canadian War Museum I was hit by the band's surprisingly dynamic onstage presence, which is impossible to convey through the medium of headphones.
Lead singer Nic Offer isn't gay, but his dancing is reminiscent of Mick Jagger with its flamboyance and femininity. After simulating fellatio on the microphone, Offer got up close and personal with the crowd, first from the photo pit, then venturing right into the centre of the masses twice.
Like the band's aggro-animated sound, this showmanship by Offer is a !!! staple. As their sprightly set went on, the tiny troupe of onlookers grew larger. Head nods and tapping feet seemed to be contagious.
In an interview with the Vital Voice, Offer spoke of how he loves that his band's disco-tinged music appeals to gay audiences.
"What was exciting is when we got into disco was how powerful it had been in the '70s to the gay community and how people found themselves when they went to those clubs in New York. They discovered they weren't weird, so this music always had this moment of revelation and freedom that felt inspiring. We recognize that the music we play is related to gay culture and we love it."
For more on !!!, including additional tour dates, check out their official site.
Jaime, My Intentions Are Bass