I went to see The Go! Team last week at Great American Music Hall. I've been a big fan of this band since first hearing their album last fall, though I take issue with the punctuation of their name. A few months ago, I said this, as part of an endorsement of the song, "Huddle Formation":
The Go! Team is what you'd get if you recruited a band to jam on covers of 80's TV adventure show theme songs, and fronted the group with a British woman named "Ninja", who rapped, sang, and led cheers. When I saw a clip of a live performance of this song, I was blown away by how many people were on stage. Two drummers, a guitarist, a bassist, a melodica player, a dancing lead singer, and three teenagers in track suits shouting cheers and doing cartwheels. I highly recommend their entire album, but this track has the sweetest melodica part.
There were no teenagers in track suits, but there was plenty of energy, plenty of dancing, and plenty of melodica. The six band members didn't limit themselves to the aforementioned instruments, switching off often to harmonica, keyboard, glockenspiel, sleigh bells, tambourine, recorder, banjo, and various percussion instruments whose names I don't know. (Note: When you can't identify an instrument on stage, that is either an extremely positive or extremely negative sign for the subsequent musical experience.)
My concert buddy for the evening was Mo. (NorCal Mo, in case there's any confusion.) We both had heard good things about the opening band, Swedish folkrockpsych band, Dungen, though Mo warned that they "always seemed tired" when they played live. Dungen seemed relatively awake during this performance, but we weren't excited enough to sit where we could actually see them. Mo snuck forward to look over the balcony during a few of their extended jam sessions. Though I liked their songs (I recommend "Du E för Fin för Mig" - at least the first six minutes of it) - their Swedish hippie jam band sound seemed to make them an odd pairing for The Go! Team.
Mo and I moved to the floor once the Go! Team began setting up. It was a well-attended show, though not overhwelmingly crowded, and our spot was ideal - but for one glaring exception. Far be it for me to be the moral arbiter of appropriate concert behavior, but I believe there is a certain etiquette to dancing at a concert.
1. Hold ≤ 1 drink in your hands.
2. Do not try to sing along to a song you don't actually know while doing your spastic dancing.
3. Don't try to "freak" your special lady. Especially don't freak a woman who is not your special lady.
4. Face the stage.
5. That means, don't go sideways, facing the wall.
6. Seriously, dude, what are you doing?
One concertgoer was violating all of these rules at once. He also smelled bad. I held my position like Bonzi Wells, boxing out and throwing elbows as needed. Not-so-tiny dancer disappeared and/or passed out after about the fifth song, and we snuck further forward.
I don't have very complicated thoughts about the Go! Team's show. Their show was immensely entertaining. They danced, swtiched instruments, played around with samples, and convinced the audience to do stupid cheers during every third song. These cheers primarily involved chanting, "Go!", "Team!", "Do it!", and "Alright!"
Ninja, the lead singer, reminded me of a girl screwing around and doing funny dancing at a wedding, only you can tell she actually really knows how to dance. She busted out moves at will. Some of my friends would have been especially thrilled with her propensity toward high kicks.
The highlight came when the drummer, Chi, came out to sing her lone song, "Hold Yr Terror Close". Now, most of the band's songs are gloriously meaningless, with lyrics seemingly derived from hopscotch chants or rhymes about skateboarding. But "Hold Yr Terror Close" is a heartbreakingly vulnerable song, eschewing the band's normal 80's drama-Frank Cannon-personal-theme-song sound in favor of simple piano and vocals.
Another moving moment came during the countrified harmonica and banjo of "Everybody's a V.I.P. To Someone", after Ninja insisted that everyone in the crowd did indeed have someone for whom they were very important. It was also nice to have a brief respite from frantic dancing. I was initially self-conscious to dance in front of Mo, as it was the first show I'd attended with her. Only later did I remember she took these photos. There is no way I could have danced more embarrassingly than that, no matter how hard The Go! Team was rocking.
In summary: The Go! Team puts on a great show, British smorgasbord hip-hop and Swedish folk make an odd pairing, don't dance sideways like a jackass, there are indeed situations where playing the recorder can be awesome, strangers are easy to like, and yearning to be you is what hurts most.