The Bell House, Brooklyn, September 9
by Stephen Slaybaugh

One of the hazards of professional music listening is that sometimes it gets to be too much. Like an overloaded hard drive, the brain ceases to make room for new bits of information—new melodies, new song titles, new bands, etc. I was hoping to impart some wisdom and critical reflection on !!!’s performance this past Friday night at the Bell House, but truth be told, I don’t know how much insight I have to offer. Lit by a few pints prior to the show, my neuroreceptors—or at least my memory—failed to retain much information, and as such, the best I have to offer is an impressionistic recollection in lieu of hard facts or opinion.

One thing that is certain, Light Asylum was onstage when my chums and I arrived at the soldout Bell House. The Brooklyn duo indulged its penchant for ’80s-styled electro-pop, but bridging the gap between Yaz and Nitzer Ebb, there was a hard edge to what they did too. Certainly not a bad way to start the evening, Light Asylum never suffered for their minimal set-up, with a fluctuation of piercing synth tones meshing with diode-cracking beats.

But while the grooves Light Asylum manifested had a serious air about them, !!! seemed all about the party. From the get-go, lead singer Nic Offer was a whirling dervish, shaking his short shorts-adorned ass and in near constant motion. As such, here’s where things get fuzzy. With two half-hour sets, the show seemed like two long songs, fluidly morphing from one cut to the next. The band favored their last couple records, the recent Strange Weather, Isn’t It? in particular, and we never had the pleasure of hearing “Pardon My Freedom” (from 2004’s Louden Up Now), which in my book, remains the highlight of the !!! songbook. Still, songs like (I think) “Jump Back,” “Yadnus” and “Bend Over Beethoven” were a flurry of bass funk, snare crashes and guitar ripples. Offer spent part of his time out amongst the masses, bumping and grinding with his fanbase, which had been quickly worked up into a frenzy. I might have remembered the show more if the band had dug deeper into its catalog, but as it is, they still left an impression of non-stop kicks. I wish I could tell you more—the other songs they played, the color of the drummer’s drums, the scent in the air—but the details were coated over as the cuts came swiftly and flowed over me in quick succession. As I left the venue, I was sweaty, giddy and perhaps a bit tipsy—the state of most in attendance and all good signs for an evening spent, if not remembered, well. Sometimes, that’s all you need to know.