On 13th November it was a cold and quiet Wednesday night in Hoxton Square, with no indication of the frenetic dance party that was about to kick off in Hoxton Square Bar. In fact, even inside the sold-out three-hundred capacity venue there was little indication as to what was in store until STRFKR kicked off their set. The Portland indie-dance four-piece are not an imposing appearing bunch and bandleader Josh Hodges did some onstage tech before the set largely unnoticed by a chatting crowd. However, once the band started they proved to the crowd that they know how to throw a party.
Setting the agenda from the off, STRFKR launched straight into the racing Miracle Mile track Malmö, which got the crowd moving with an infectious mix of energetic bass, catchy whistling and juddering synths. Backed by fluctuating and colour shifting lights that reflected off the mirrorball in the middle of the packed venue, the lads were in their element and immediately got the good vibes going. From there they moved into spacey, atmospheric tunes from second album Reptilians before diving headfirst into the Pixies-esque garage pop of Beach Monster. The band kept new and old fans alike pleased with a seamless mix of new tunes from their recent album, Miracle Mile, and old favourites from earlier albums. The shoegazey singalong Say To You segued perfectly into the crashing drum fill and skewed countermelodies that open early fan favourite Rawnald Gregory Erickson II, which elicited a cheer from the audience. Fortunately, the samples of enlightening monologues from British philosopher Alan Watts, which pepper many early recordings, make a successful transition to the stage and at one point bassist Shawn Glassford engaged in a funny conversation with these samples.
After the jubilant synths and warbly guitar solo of Atlantis they throw the crowd a curveball by unleashing their high energy cover of Cyndi Lauper’s Girls Just Want To Have Fun. Usually a dancefloor killer outside of hen nights, the jaunty bass line and driving guitar lick really pumped the crowd up and got even the most reserved gig-goer moving their feet. Towards the end of the set the band crack out their own feel-good disco tune, While I’m Alive, which saw audience members break out glow sticks and guitarist Patrick Morris pull some dance moves during the instrument-swapping percussion breakdown. The band exchange grins and exude the air of musicians who have their parts down and who have mastered a good pop melody. They channel Depeche Mode on the moody and atmospheric Leave It All Behind, with synths so heavy the walls shake, before thanking the audience for joining them on their first headlining date in London and then round off the night by getting the audience jumping on Bury Us Alive. After applause and coaxing from the audience, STRFKR return to the stage and send the crowd off with an encore of the dreamy Isabella of Castile and pulsing dancefloor filler Boy Toy.
Throughout the triumphant set the band themselves seemed shy, only greeting the audience five songs in and exchanging little banter. However, they are clearly confident behind their instruments, dishing out audaciously catchy songs with a little stage swagger and are not afraid to let their euphoric music speak for itself.