Photos by Elif Geris.
STRFKR had one goal Valentine’s Day at Concord Music Hall, and that was to make its audience move. Vocalist, drummer, guitarist and more Josh Hodges introduced himself to the crowd alone, wearing a dress that made his shoulders jut out, a pink bobbed wig and round glasses, emulating awkward, teen mod girls of the 1960s. I’m not going to try to deconstruct the costume featured in Wednesday’s main act, as the band clearly just wants to embrace quirk, a theme that progresses as the show does.
“I prefer the people dressed as astronauts just being crazy, to the bunny that was interacting with people,” my friend Katie said. She added that it’s “trying too hard” when a band introduces a character to the stage who already looks out of place, but then personifies itself.
But that’s the type of chaos STRFKR aspires to inspire you to. It wants to push its audience boundaries, and it wants to bring camaraderie to the room. This is a good decision, being that the venue was sold out for STRFKR.
Personally, though, freedom to be bizarre wasn’t a highlight. The evening was celestial; this Valentine’s Day audience saw a spectacle in lighting of all colors and of all shapes. The show opened with just a large projection of the prism from the Jupiter album cover, and its colors shone through the center of an already exuberant crowd.
“I’ve been listening to them since before middle school, but they were never around where we are [Michigan], and we were like, man, we’ve got to get up [to Chicago],” said Christian, 20, who was spending this day of love with his girlfriend to whom he’d introduced STRFKR. Christian has been following the Portland band since its inception in 2007.
STRFKR released a series of albums named Vault Parts one through three, songs the band has not committed to playing live just yet. It’s a collection of songs that strays from the rest, from dance tracks like “Never Ever” and “Bury Us Alive.” There’s irony about STRFKR, one way being that it embraces overt weirdness, but that it lives a normal life. It holds Vault close to the chest.
The disco dance jam, “Bury Us Alive,” is a fan favorite, and yet, the song is clearly about death, along with the album from which it derives, Reptilians. If that’s not symbolic of shedding one’s skin and escaping to a new life or realm, then I don’t know what is.
Projected on the screen later are the silhouettes of trees, depicted as though being passed by in a car. That movement throughout a day, in minutes, symbolizes the nature of time.
STRFKR brought life to Concord Music Hall using bright oranges and mustards, that tunneled through the audience as the colors flickered in the shape of a cactus. And all lighting and costume aside, this band can play. STRFKR’s implementation of the synthesizer, combined with a bass that sings for itself, is beautiful and original.
It does force one to dance. Though Hodges told PopMatters of depression by loneliness, or lack thereof, it seems that this need to maneuver audience members’ bones comes from STRFKR’s urge for unity.