Near the end of !!!'s riotous set, Nic Offer, the shaggy-maned, short-shorts-wearing lead singer, told the crowd, “We don't take a Little Rock show lightly.” When !!! was first touring, he said, “and people everywhere [else] looked at us slack-jawed, Little Rock always got down.”
True to form, just about everyone in the crowd got down last Wednesday — at least when they weren't too busy gawking. It was dizzyingly exciting to watch the Brooklyn-based octet recreate the robot-funk jams from its records, which sound like they're built on loops and studio wizardry. Throughout most of the night, two drummers played a metronome's beat, usually with another percussionist working a tambourine or high hat. (At one particularly feverish part of the show, four people played percussion.) Two guitarists, including Tyler Pope, who's largely the mastermind behind the band's arrangements, and a bassist rounded out the instrumental side of the group.
John Pugh, a founding member and native Little Rocker, wasn't with !!! for its triumphant homecoming. He left, on his own accord, several months ago. (Look out for his new project, Free Blood). Little Rock was bummed, but his replacement, Shannon Funchess, might be the best thing to ever happen to the band. In Umbros with a tank top, she was a dance-punk Tina Turner, all raw emotion and deep soul. The stripped-down new songs !!! offered, with Funchess howling lead, were revelatory.
Here's an early prediction: !!!'s next album will launch the band into a new stratosphere.— Lindsey Millar