Show Review: Gang of Four w/ Hollerado at The Fillmore, 2/19/2011

by Dakin Hardwick on February 22, 2011

Gang Of Four: A mythical band that spawned many bands that are much more famous than themselves. They invented this so called “disco punk,” and nearly every band of the last decade has considered them to be a major influence. They have been name checked by They Might Be Giants in a song, Flea of Red Hot Chili Peppers admits to ripping them off on many occasions, and their blend of politics, danceable beats, and cold, angular guitar noise can be heard in bands as wide ranging as The Gossip, The Klaxons, and even a little U2. But what do they really mean to the world in 2011? They are back on the road with a new rhythm section, a new record, and are playing nearly everywhere.

Dean Baxter: On Ground, Menno Versteeg: Floating

Hollerado played a brief opening set. On a typical night, Hollerado put on one of the best live sets out there. They are high energy, and a lot of fun to watch. Tonight, however, they were a bit off their game. They almost seemed a bit distracted. It may be that they’ve been on the road for too long, or it was just an off night. Even more likely was that they felt out of their element. They were playing a very nice, very famous venue. They were opening for a legendary band that  happens to sound nothing like them! I think it was an odd billing. The crowd responded politely, clapping along and cheering at the most appropriate moments, but it wasn’t until near the end of the set, when they played the single “Americanarama” that they really seemed to get into it, and that’s when the band start playing with their usual lively energy. But, three songs later, it was over. Hopefully next time around, they’ll be a bit more refreshed, because they are a great band.

Gang Of Four came out and went straight into “You’ll Never Pay For The Farm,” a track of their recently released record Content. It’s a rather ballsy move for a band of this age, and band where the vast majority of the fans consider their defining work to be their debut record. This would be an issue under weaker material, but this record might be their strongest album since their disco-punk classic Songs Of The Free. The band itself was in solid musical shape throughout the entirety of the set.

Original members Jon King, vocals, and Andy Gill, guitar, may not look like young punks anymore, but they sound great. Gill maybe one of the most underrated guitarists in rock. He exhibits amazing control of feedback, and manages to get some of the most interesting sounds out of his guitar. He is credited for creating the guitar tone that has been used by every modern day disco-punk band from Bloc Party to the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, but in reality, Tom Morello, of Rage Against The Machine fame, probably owes the greatest debt to this musician.

The band managed to cram a whopping 16 songs into a set that was barely over an hour. The beginning and end was devoted to the classic sound that brought the near-capacity crowd moving, but even with such a short set, their was a lull. About halfway through the show, they devoted the time to slower material, and it really brought down the energy level quite a bit. It was plainly obvious that this crowd wanted to party on a Saturday night, and people, instead, grew a bit weary. One of my companions even left during this moment.

Of course, to wake up the crowd from this, they pulled out the track that, in my humble opinion, is the strongest track in the bands catalog, “To Hell With Poverty.” Gill stood center stage, spotlight on, dressed in a dapper black suit, playing one of the most familiar riffs of the post punk era, and then the crowd exploded! It was one of those cathartic rock n roll experiences where everyone was in perfect sync.

Another late-show treat was when King pulled out a microphoned microwave and destroyed it with an axe handle. It made an excellent percussion piece, but also a wonderful bit of theater.

In whole, the Saturday night Gang Of Four experience was a solid evening of dancey fun.

Setlist

You’ll Never Pay for the Farm
Not Great Men
Ether
I Parade Myself
Paralysed
A Fruitfly in the Beehive
Anthrax
It Was Never Gonna Turn Out Too Good
What We All Want
Why Theory?
We Live as We Dream, Alone
To Hell With Poverty
Do As I Say
I Love a Man in Uniform
I Party All the Time
Damaged Goods

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