Twenty-one years after forming !!!, singer Nic Offer is still channeling his inner Mick Jagger. The band came to prominence amongst the crop of early-2000s dance-rock bands, most notably with 2004 album Louden Up Now. Though many dance-rock bands came and went in a flash around the same era, !!! have thankfully stuck around and released their seventh album Shake the Shudder (available through Warp Records). The album continues to light up your friendly neighborhood hipster dance floor with funky songs that retain the punk-rock energy that made them so beloved in the first place. Fresh off a set at Primavera Sound in Spain, !!! kicked off their US tour at U Street Music Hall.
When going to a !!! show for the first time, one of the first things that will undoubtedly catch your eye is Offer’s trademark short shorts. You’ll soon understand why a few minutes in - he can’t help but dance, and he needs all the freedom of motion he can get. Nic Offer’s roots in hardcore music in the 90s shows two decades later - he is still a VERY energetic singer. Though his punk days are long past him, Offer still draws boundless energy through the communal experience. Not a minute went by without some hair-flipping, pelvic thrusting, spinning, and dancing with fans in the crowd (to varying effectiveness, which hilariously included one person that stood motionless as he danced in front of him). As important as the crowd is, it’s the rest of the band that compels Offer to show off his relentless dance moves in the first place. The slinky slap bass sets the groove for Offer in Shudder highlight “Dancing is the Best Revenge” (whose music video shows off some of his well-known moves), and the quick strumming of “Freedom ‘15” helped Offer and co-vocalist (and DC native) Meah Pace get the crowd joining in a call-and-response dance. Though !!! has been performing as a band for so long, they still perform as if it’s the very first time, with furious energy emanating from both the band and the crowd. After a sweaty dance-heavy set at U Hall, maybe fans should consider bringing some short shorts of their own next time.
Opening for !!! was Baltimore electronic musician Nerftoss, aka John Jones. Aided by a drummer, Jones played an intense 45-minute set without breaks, employing complex beats, far-out sounds, and some catchy synth melodies thrown in the mix for good measure. Their latest release is the 2016 LP Crushed, released through NNA Tapes.