“Space monsters, inflatable rafts, and Cindy Lauper,” best epitomizes the STRFKR performance at the Boulder Theatre last Thursday night, which was so off the wall, had the shit got any crazier, the show might have been a freakin’ masterpiece.
I have attempted to see STRFKR a couple of times in NYC when the band was touring on their last couple of albums, but their shows always sold out before I could grab a ticket. I never got it – STRFKR’s low-fi brand of indie pop is appealing enough, but I always questioned how they attract such large crowds to their concerts, versus similar acts like Bombay Bicycle Club, Hospitality, and the Pains of Being Pure at Heart. Sure enough, STRFKR sold out the rather spacious Boulder Theatre (which, by the way is the best concert venue I have visited since maybe Webster Hall in Manhattan) packed full of raucous college kids from the nearby University of Colorado.
STRFKR’s set began low-key enough, as the band laid out several of the softer moments from their catalogue, such as the opener “Boy Toy” the dreamy sing along “Beach Monster,” and the pop gem “Atlantis.” The shit didn’t really start to hit the fan until about ten songs into the show, when band members started to play a literal round of musical chairs as singer Josh Hodges and drummer Keil Corcoran changed places, and later Corcoran switched up with bass player Shawn Glassford. STRFKR’s set, which ran 26 songs and well over 2 hours, was by far the longest indie pop show I have ever seen. The longer it went, the weirder it got as go-go dancers dressed like astronauts wearing scary Halloween masks took the stage on and off for the last ten or so songs. At one point, the space monsters dragged an inflatable raft onto the stage, one of its members climbed abroad and was promptly jettisoned into the crowd for a trip along the upraised arms stretching above the theater’s main-floor.
So, what about the music? I’ve always loved STRFKR’s rhythm section and its tendency to fit tight guitar riffs and solos amidst its synths and bass grooves. This stuff certainly stood out in the show with the performances of tunes like “Malmo” and “Julius.” Yet the band had no intention of departure after performing a respectable number of their best songs. Rather than tossing it in early, at the 20-song mark STRFKR embarked on a 3-song excursion of 80s pop, starting with Cindy Lauper’s “Girls Just Want to Have Fun,” followed by the Human League’s “Don’t You Want Me Baby,” and ending the nostalgic trip with New Order’s “Blue Monday,” During the course of the show, STRFKR unveiled a live version of its new single “Never Ever,” providing a taste of what will hopefully be a new full-length recording from the band soon, and ending with a three song encore, concluding with one of my favorite cuts from the latest album Miracle Mile, “Leave It All Behind.”
Oh wait! I forgot about opener and electronic artist Com Truise. I never really appreciated live purely electronic sets until I saw Laurel Halo a few years back opening for Chairlift at the aforementioned super-venue Webster Hall. On that evening, Halo skillfully demonstrated how an individual performer leaning over a synthesizer for an hour can create an awesome journey. Focusing on a portly bearded dude embracing a tower of electronic equipment and a laptop is potentially a lot to ask from an easily distracted young audience. However, Seth Haley (who is Com Truise) crafted a tight, at times mesmerizing, performance amongst a bunch of new material (I didn’t recognize anything from his 2011 and 2012 releases).
Okay, so I get it. A STRFKR show definitely warrants crowds clamoring to indie rock venues everywhere! I hope to get another shot at them once the band releases what is hopefully a rapidly approaching new album.
Feature photo by Joshua Wallace.
Nate Jones is middle-aged, rapidly balding man with chronic bad breath who writes about culture, identity politics, and sometimes music. His published work includes pieces in Ready Player None: A Ready Player One Fanzine, Old White Dudes’ Quarterly, various want ads seeking vintage Atari 2600 cartridges, and his blog entitled “My Heaven is 1973.”