STRFKR puts on delightfully oddball performance at Altar Bar


By John Lavanga / A&E Editor

If STRFKR’s performance at Altar Bar on Tuesday night had ended halfway through, it would have been a success. 

A large pixelated display behind the band flashed artful visuals of multicolored pyramids and whorls that accompanied their appealing blend of synthesizers and live instruments perfectly while members, largely trapped behind keyboards and the drum, remained somewhat static. All of it was good. None of it superb.

But from the moment lead vocalist Joshua Hodges — looking thrift-shop chic in a long sleeved floral dress — swapped instruments with drummer Keil Corcoran, it became clear that the band wasn’t going to settle for a good show: They were looking to put on a spectacle.

What a spectacle it was. 

After the switch up came a sudden, virtually palpable surge of energy from the group, who seemed reinvigorated by the chance to put all of their talent and versatility on full display. The members went from static to borderline frantic, and they upped the tempo of their tracks to a practically dizzying pace. The audience, clearly shocked by the shift both in instruments and in energy, responded in kind. Suddenly the crowd, which filled both floors of the Altar Bar to capacity, transformed from a rhythmically swaying indie crowd into participants in an exuberant dance party.

On albums, STRFKR’s music always has the feeling of something to be danced to, but in person, their music flat out demanded that listeners groove. Rather than sounding like louder but inferior renditions of their songs, the simple, layered bleeps and synth rhythms of the band took on new life in the venue — no small feat at Altar Bar, where even must-see live acts have battled to maintain the quality of their sound.

In short, STRFKR was a rare treat: the type of band that sounds better in the flesh.

While it was enough of a shock to see STRFKR shake off the bored posturing that seems to be in vogue among bands of its kind, they weren’t anywhere near out of surprises. As the visuals continued to pulse and the band members poured themselves into their performances, they began to share the stage with some strange guests. 

During the show’s next slight lull, STRFKR was joined by a quartet of back-up dancers. With two dressed up as rabbits, one as an elephant and the lead dancer assuming the garb of an astronaut, the dancers added an oddball element to the show that caused any remaining self-consciousness among the audience to dissipate.

The addition of the strange dancers further invigorated the already energized act. What had felt like a moderately successful concert only a dozen minutes prior, now had the glimmer and aura of a concert that fans could truly cling to. They had struck just the right combination of enthusiasm, great performance and downright weirdness to make it a show that friends could talk about a year or more down the line.

Several songs later, after some crowd surfing from the astronaut, the sideshow left the stage as suddenly as they appeared. However, the spectacle was far from over. Shortly thereafter, the still dancing concertgoers were treated to a downpour of black balloons and confetti, which were joyfully batted akimbo.

From STRFKR’s strange taste in backup dancers to their incredible versatility as musicians — each member switched back and forth between at least two instruments — everything that made the band great was on full display in that second half. By the time they had reached their closing track, “Rawnald Gregory Erickson the Second,” they had guaranteed the crowd a night to remember.