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!!! sweats it out

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!!! / Fine Line Music Café / May 9, 2007 Text by Nate Patrin | Photos by Darin Back

The thing about a band like !!!—a group so aggressively dynamic in its rhythmic tendencies that every musician in the band might as well be playing a percussion instrument—is that if you're fronting them, you've got to be as big a vocal and physical presence as the sound around you.

What this means is that, in the case of Nic Offer, you have to be throwing yourself around pretty much non-stop until every movement of your head flings out a fine mist of sweat and your shirt is two shades darker and you need to towel yourself off after about 40 minutes. "I was cleaner than I've been in six months," he admits to a decent-sized (if thankfully non-claustrophobic) Fine Line crowd Wednesday night. "I washed my hair, I shaved, I showered, I washed my booty, and now..." Hell, you testify in front of the best live dance-punk band outta New York and see how pristine you are after 75 minutes.

!!! are a band best experienced live—no slight to their studio output, which recently peaked with this year's Myth Takes (review here), but between Offer's Jagger-gone-Fosse stage theatrics (karate snap kicks one minute, jazz hands the next) and the band's tendency to elaborate five-minute recordings into nine-minute epiphanies with perfectly-timed build-and-release momentum, they're definitely a show band.

The most significant addition of all was the presence of Shannon Funches, who sang backup vocals on one song from Myth Takes ("Heart of Hearts," which the band barreled through in this show like some kind of raver J.B.'s). She took on a much bigger role here—apparently as a special limited-engagement guest, as Offer quipped—waxing Loleatta Holloway on "Pardon My Freedom" and "Yadnus" and other songs between pulls of Red Stripe and sharp banter with Offer. The two vocalists were maybe a bit too compatible: "We like the same kinda girls," admitted Offer, "and I'm always stealin' 'em."

Text by Nate Patrin | Photos by Darin Back

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See also: Keegan Hamilton's review of !!!'s Seattle show on May 3 here