An erratic barrage of neon bliss scattered across the walls, bouncing off the astronauts synchronized in their two-step samba. Alan Watts’ law of attraction plays on loop as billows of fog lingered into the crowd. A masked marauder takes the stage, offering roses to the crowd. As I struggled to maintain the focus on my Nikon, I popped up from the sanctum of my lens, my legs- plastic noodles- in disbelief.
A reptilian-masked robot mounted aboard a giant swan barreled towards me, treading gracefully along a sea of hands. In almost thematic nature, the prop turned vessel propels over my head, a world of heavy white vinyl exodus takes over before returning to the prismatic light show I thought I’d never see again.
This past Sunday, dance-pop/psychedelic group STRFKR rocked The National, creating a non-stop dance party that put Saturday Night Fever to shame. Portland’s brainchild Joshua Hodges lives up to the reputation, not missing a beat and taking little to no breaks in between sets. An avid enthusiast of the band, I found myself lost- in both time and place- along the course of the set. The songs meshed together in electrifying harmony.
Like the thunderous roar of Aslan, Hodges and crew breath life into the crowd, forcing even the grayest of concert statues to shake their hips. All the while, the cryptic nature of his lyrics, muffled under the momentum of the moment, elude to a soul entangled between crushing anguish and an existential breakthrough.
A band originally solidified in the indie scene for their iconic moniker “Starfucker,” the group made sure to nod their cap to the margin of their 2009 fans by playing “Rawnald Gregory Erickson The Second” midway through the set. And the band made sure to shine the spotlight (or in this case- lasers) on their newest release, Vault Vol. 1-3 as well as their new-ish 2016 album Being No one, Going Nowhere.
The pace of the band would change when playing these, as each new song gave a ‘behind the curtain’ compilation that propelled the audience along a psychedelic storyboard into the cavernous depths of STRFKR’s creative domain. In the latter portion of the set, Hodges revealed brief snips of inspiration to the crowd, including works of Ayya Khema, whose most notable work is the same name as their newest album. Known for utilizing the works of Khalil Gibran, Alan Watts, the upbeat rhythm the band produces plays in steep contrast to the messages they present.
The opening act, Reptaliens, should be acknowledged for their amazing performance. Formed by married duo Bambi and Cole Browning, the group set the stage well, warming the crowd up with earthy psychedelia pop, analog synthesizers, and immaculate vocals. The set was performed off of their freshman album, FM-2030.
The two groups will continue their tour around the country hitting Baltimore Feb. 20, ending with their final show on April 21 in Honolulu. As both of these bands are sure to continue to grow in popularity, it is clear that status was never the facet of success intended. Hodges puts it best: ‘when the working day is done, they just wanna have fun.’
Photos By: John Donegan