Kicking off the their short string of California dates, STRFKR stepped onstage at The Observatory to give fans a run-through of their illustriously evocative and groovy discography of synthpop hits. Between lead singer Joshua Hodges and his raving collection of fans, there stood only the pulse of STRFKR’s deep electronic cuts and psychedelic, layered wails–everything else was left to evaporate in the bright explosions of light and lasers that burst from behind.
The Portland born group have had a tried and successful career in crafting both highly danceable and smart pop songs, and their set at the Observatory last Wednesday night was a testament to that bipolarism. Onstage, the trio were a calm and collected, unleashing their potent synth hooks and helium croons onto a frenzied audience that found themselves packed into the sold-out venue. Three songs into their set, fans were still pouring in, while those already present found themselves melting into the dizzyingly colorful tunes of “Isabella of Castille” and “German Love.”
Grappling from one hit to the next, all the while hypnotizing the crowd further with a dazzling laser show, STRFKR dove deep into their eclectic discography. From Jupiter to Miracle Mile, as the trio ventured deeper into the night they appeared less like the indie rock hipsters they once were, and more like the otherworldly pioneers of electronica they’d become. Sonically, STRFKR has always been unnaturally mature in their reconciliation of pop licks and ability to remain bitingly, enthusiastically avant-garde, without coming off as arrogant or patronizing. In that same way, live, the band maintains a controlled adhesion to their cool, easy sense of restraint.
Unlike the (sometimes) over the top attempts by their contemporaries to emphasize their psychedelic undertones with woozy ambience and rhythmically senseless experimentalism, STRFKR remains loyal to their desire in making and playing music you can dance to. Throughout their nearly two hour set the entire crowd was alive and electrified by their infectious melodies; from the nu-disco soul of “Atlantis” to the cascading synth overtures of “Julius,” fans were engaged in a building wide dance party.
Until the end of their set, STRFKR pumped the crowd into a jubilant frenzy with the lush ecstasy of their rabid tunes. Hodges and company erupted and sizzled between technicolor walls of the Observatory, his voice a glistening croon of melancholic and oddly spiritual pop–one that left fans glowing in the aftermath.
Solo electronic producer Com Truise opened the night with his funky collection of chillwave remixes.
Words & Photos: Steven Ward