31 October 2007

Review: The Go! Team


Studio B, Brooklyn, 28 October 2007

Check out the Go! Team on the Hype Machine

You see the important thing about the name of the band, The Go! Team is that exclamation mark... not just that punctuation, but where it sits. They're not The Go Team! or, heaven forbid, The! Go Team. No, the emphasis is on "GO," the verb, action, movement, pure kinetics. That's really all you need to know -- this band moves with pure kinetic energy and anyone standing idly by in the swath that is their music is quickly drawn into the vortex and can't help but to move... to Go!
Yeah, the show was on Sunday and I think now a few days later my heart rate has finally settled back down to my typical rest state. You've got your Holy Fuck! and !!!, but The Go! Team is even more fundamental in their quest to make you sweat. The band swept through NYC in typical fashion for a hot up-and-comer act... that is they played Manhattan one night and Brooklyn the next. The Bowery Ballroom show had been sold out, but getting a ticket to the Studio B show wasn't too much of a problem. That's fine, I've been wanting to check out that room for a while. Of course, the catch is that the show is on a Sunday night which is always a tough sell for my brain to my body.
Last time I did the Sunday thing was for Iron & Wine and I was convinced that the mellow Sam Beam was the perfect way to round out a weekend. Now, I'm not so sure. In fact, I'd go so far to say that if every week started with a cold blast of the Go! Team, I might make it Monday to Friday with a little more pep in my step. Oh man, do these guys bring it! It's a 3 guys/3 girls multi-ethnic split that has the band looking like a Benetton advertisement in the flesh (question: is this reference even relevant any more?). The live show is some weird combination of rock and roll and hip hop, a high school pep rally and a full-out aerobics class. The musicians bound about on stage like they're on speed and the lead chiquita lays down the vocals in an adorable British accent that'll have you doing whatever she asks.
The thing about that show is that there is no deconstructing it whatsoever. I mean, I'm more than happy to look for deeper meaning in anything, to add hyperbolic import to a single guitar chord... given the chance I'll declare any live music experience to be a metaphor for life itself. But with these guys, I've got nothing. 100% corporeal experience. The lyrics don't have much more meaning beyond "come on everybody, let's rock this joint" and the melodies are the simplest ditties you could ask for. But that's like saying that a fireworks display is just your basic red, green, blue and white. Yeah, we've seen those colors before, but it's the BANG! that counts. The Go! Team is pure bang. They do mix it up a wee bit: an instrumental here, a slowdown faux-acoustic number there, I think most of the band members got a chance to sing on a song and they did switch up instruments every once in a while, but mostly it operates at one level... one glorious level.
Studio B was a perfect place for the party. It's mostly a dance club type atmosphere with different alcoves and chill spots and multi levels across a pretty open layout. The area in front of the stage is deceptively tight which packs the crowd into a nice intimate area; perfect for feeding the band and getting fed in turn. From the looks of it, you never would have known it was Sunday night... there were plenty of freakers out in early Halloween costumes and the joint was, as they say, jumping. The place was pulsing with a whole bunch of that Go! Go! Go! and I can't remember being a part of a crowd that hepped up before. We shook and boogied and did lots of jumping up and down. It was one big exercise mat up front and the more calisthenics they had us doing, the more kinetic energy we gave back. That was live music pure and simple... with a capital "!"
A word about the openers. I've been incredibly lucky with opening bands this year; they've made some of my favorite shows and I've embraced several support acts as full-fledged loves. So, I've been due for some clunkers, and man, oh man, did Sunday night serve up a one-two punch. Now, I'm not saying they're the worst band I've seen all year, but Effi Briest was the worst band I've seen all year... actually in a long, long time. The whole act is so ill-conceived I can't settle on just one way to say "they sucked." First of all, there was an act before them, "heartsrevolution" that was like a girl rapping with another girl backing her up and a dude on keyboard/laptop. And they were pretty awful in that "man, the path from fucking around in your apartment to getting a decent gig in NYC is getting a little too easy" kind of way. I mean, ugh! Ugh! Ugh! But they were very short -- like 15 minutes -- and had a decent spirit that I couldn't dwell too much on it. If they were a blind date, you might walk away saying they had a good personality.

So, they go off without incident and we're waiting for the next band. And waiting. And waiting. And waiting. And you get the picture. 45 minutes. Occasionally someone would come out and play around with a guitar and then disappear. Holy shit that was annoying. They finally come out and take the stage and they're still not ready to play. More setting up and moving things around and tuning. Please. Start. Playing. Now. Really. I was pulling my hair out in frustration. It was 7, count them 7 women of various looks and the instruments they were setting up were a very eclectic mix, to say the least. A couple guitars, a bass and a drum set, yes... but also a clarinet, accordion, a bleeping recorder (flashbacks to 2nd grade music class; hello Miss Haas!) and so forth. Then finally they start playing and it's like, can I even describe it? First of all, it's got this sort of avant-garde edge, like this is the kind of thing that situated it in some Lower East Side not-yet-ready-for-Tonic venue, not the dance party atmosphere they should have been trying to cultivate. When I wasn't being distracted by the clarinetists ample garden-of-the-armpit, I was truly horrified by the music. The two guitarists were not even playing in the same key at the same time, the drummer did a horrible job holding down such a large group, and add into that some high school level clarinet and/or accordion and some off-pitch caterwauling and you get the picture. It's hard for me to hate on bass players, especially the quintessential "chick bass player" and the only thing I could stand listening to, or even look at, in Effi Briest was the bassist. My body actually started convulsing in weird ways for want of the set to end. Holy crumb that is some bad music, and I think I'm being relatively gentle here, I could go on. A photo for posterity:

I couldn't muster even polite applause after songs without feeling completely disingenuous, and I wasn't the only one. I do not exaggerate when I say that the most enthusiastic response was for the announcement that "this will be our last song." Avoid at all costs. Actually let's add an exclamation point to that last sentence, it's what The Go! Team would have wanted.

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