Review By Hadley Tomicki
Photos by C. Browne
The night of October 20th at El Rey packed in so much sugary cuteness, I imagine the crowd full of young 20-somethings woke up with new cavities. Anticipating the raucous cheerleading funk squad, The Go Team, the former movie-house was brimming with sights from ironic whiteboy afros and vintage dresses to fanboy Danny Masterson.
Walking into El Rey’s confines, the energy coming from the stage was undeniable. A magnet not much higher than five feet was pulling recent entries closer to the stage by the dozens. The Grates’ lead singer, Patience, with Cameron Diaz’ smile, Karen O’s haircut and Iggy Pop’s manic energy (without the bloodshed), jumped and hopped around the stage while belting out gorgeously voiced punk pop songs over fuzzy three-chord frenzies and hard pounding backbeats. The Grates, a trio from Brisbane, Australia, set the bar high with their enthusiasm. They have superstar written all over them, and even if the crowd had not been impressed by their catchy, harmonious raves, at least the band is having fun, all smiles and flutters, jumping, and twisting dance moves taken straight from American Bandstand, circa 1959. Directly after their set, the band, being the good Aussies they are, were found in the house, enjoying beers and shaking hands.
After a long set change, the highly anticipated Smoosh walked on the stage. Wait, no they didn’t-instead two little blonde girls (I think the drummer was a girl) no older than 13 came out to deliver earnest and beautiful, synth-driven pop ballads with confidence. Wait, that is Smoosh! Smoosh are about ten years old, but handle the stage like veterans. Though the songs are beautifully crafted and delivered with a detached grace, the duo was a little low energy, as if not fully in command of their power to deliver the delicately gorgeous pop songs they’ve mastered. By the time they hit 15 and get into drugs and alcohol, they should be perfect performers. In any case, their bravery, if not their introspective, engaging ditties, is to be respected. The songs were nice and well beyond any novelty possibly expected from such a young band, but they were a little out of place with such high-energy tour mates.
The crowd had reached its full capacity as anticipation built up for The Go Team’s avant garde pep rally. A sweet crowd, there was a lot of talk of how much everyone planned to dance, despite little personal space and a lackluster dance scene thus far– unless you count head nodding as dancing.
Throughout the night, a few fans felt their sense of rhythm strong enough to overwhelm El Rey’s shitty acoustics with loud hand-claps in the style of George Michael’s Faith. They would be best to leave the music-making to the performers, however, and uh, stop being so fucking annoying as to assume we want to witness their whiteness on display (sadly some of them weren’t even honkies, proving whiteness to be an infectious disease as thought).
The Go Team, a mix of Funkadelic and Pavement with a touch of the Spice Girls with extra Chavness, appearing direct from a Benneton ad, hit the stage sometime after 11. More cute energy erupted. The lead singer shook, growled, rapped and wailed her catchy hook-driven cheers over thundering bass lines, two drum kits and a smattering of instruments from melodicas to hoof bells.
Occasionally the group would be joined by three sweatsuit-bedecked backup chanters, providing a true pep squad feel to the events, albeit with a working class Manchester vibe, as if prams full of brats and cigarettes awaited them backstage. The Go Team’s vibrant energy is matched equally with musical
exploration, sometimes departing from their slick, sweet power-pop to go into hard, exploratory instrumental grooves. At one point drummer B, a tiny lil’ thing, emerged from her kit to sing a stirring and beautifully quiet song, accompanied only by guitar. Oh and the hand claps of some asshole behind me, is this what Johan from Moving Units has created?
Even poorly served by the old theater’s sound, the Go Team gave forth the vigor in their tunes that was so highly expected by the crowd who needed them as their conduit to get loose.
The Go Team no doubt left the crowd danced out and on a high. The three bands together represented a terrific face of power pop music with ingenuity, cuteness and youthful spunk. On tour throughout November, anyone seeking to beat the 9-5 blues would be well off shaking their things to The Go Team’s traveling circus of hard driven, funky eclecticism.