Archive for Friday, June 20, 2003

!!! lives up to its name

June 20, 2003

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Not a lot of bands use an exclamation point in their name, and for good reason. Having punctuation's most expressive symbol creates an expectation of intensity that most acts can't live up to. Wednesday night at The Bottleneck, however, New York's !!! lived up to all three.

!!! (often referred to as Chik Chik Chik or any other trio of repetitive sounds) knows how to take a variety of sounds and twist them into something magical and mutated. The octet is touring in support of its newly released EP, "Me and Giuliani Down By the School Yard (A True Story)," on Touch and Go Records.

The band uses just about any instrument it can find (be it bongos, brass, drum machines or megaphone) to create a sound that's not necessarily melodic, but completely compelling and unique.

Vocalist Nic Offer is either half-singing or spastically making sounds (e.g. doot doots or uh-uhs). That's basically in line with the rest of the music: a manic, bass-heavy noise that fuses funk, jazz, dance beats and just about anything else the band can come up with.

The group played a short set -- well under an hour -- but with its powerful stage presence, deranged ferocity and songs veering past the nine-minute mark, that's somewhat understandable. But after the group's last song, the crowd still shouted for more.

"Don't give me that," Offer responded. "If we played more, you'd get bored eventually."

That's doubtful.

A lot of adjectives come to mind when describing !!!, but boring isn't one of them. Whether Offer was coming offstage to shake it with the audience or cracking marijuana jokes between songs, the show was never tedious and always unpredictable.

The Bottleneck's marquee only advertised the show with one exclamation point, but Wednesday night !!! earned all three.

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