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Review: STRFKR returns to WOW Hall to play a sold-out show



The Portland-based, indie-electronica four-piece STRFKR has gone through a slew of name changes since their 2007 inception.

STRFKR dances along with the audience (Meerah Powell/Emerald)

STRFKR dances along with the audience (Meerah Powell/Emerald)

The group began their reign under the straight-forward and explicit moniker “Starfucker,” then briefly went by the name “Pyramiddd” – perhaps in an attempt to welcome in a more family friendly appeal – but then decided to turn to a happy medium with STRFKR, which phonetically sounds the same as their original naming but is maybe slightly easier to digest visually.

Unlike the name changes, the group’s sound, an incredibly danceable and incredibly fun indie-electronica hodgepodge, has not differed too wildly since their debut album, Starfucker, was released in 2008. The fan base, however, has grown exponentially since their beginnings.

STRFKR has played a lot of larger-scale shows in its nearly-10 years of existence. From touring electronic music festival Mad Decent Block Party to Sasquatch Music Festival, the group has shared the stage with well-known electronic artists like Pretty Lights, Big Gigantic and Diplo.

On Wednesday, February 17, though, STRFKR returned to their small-venue roots to play a sold out show at WOW Hall, and attracted a lot of dedicated fans.

Although it was a relatively chilly evening, a line of concert-goers wrapped around the corner of 8th Ave. and about halfway down Lincoln St. with more than a half-hour to spare before the doors to WOW Hall opened.

A moderate-sized crowd packed the front of the stage to hear the openers for the night: Portland electronica artist Fake Drugs and New York synthwave producer Com Truise.

Fake Drugs, a solo artist with only electronic tracks and a guitar, started off the show with a surprisingly concise, 20-minute performance. Though playing a short set, he gained positive audience response with his easily danceable, catchy tracks.

Portland artist Fake Drugs opens the show (Meerah Powell/Emerald)

Portland artist Fake Drugs opens the show (Meerah Powell/Emerald)

Com Truise, in contrast, played a vastly longer set of almost an hour. The glitched-out, ’80s-influenced artist played a variety of his more popular tracks such as “VHS Sex” and “Ether Drift.” Led by grimey, bassy synthesizer and powerful electronic drum tracks, Com Truise played through a variety of technical difficulties and finished his set strong even after his projected visuals failed.

Com Truise performs at WOW Hall for the first time (Meerah Powell/Emerald)

Com Truise performs at WOW Hall for the first time (Meerah Powell/Emerald)

As Com Truise wrapped up his set, the concert hall began to fill to capacity, but it wasn’t until about 30 minutes later when STRFKR finally entered the stage. Although the audience became a little antsy during the waiting time, the band gained an extremely warm welcome from the all-ages crowd.

STRFKR is a band about visuals. From confetti guns to crowdsurfing astronauts to blow up dolls being thrown into the audience, anything can happen when STRFKR performs live, and pretty much everything did at this WOW Hall show.

#STRFKR and dancing astronauts.

A video posted by Meerah (@yoyo_byebye) on

Along with their variety of props, the stage was backlit by multiple panels of LED lighting that were illuminated rhythmically with the music, as well as projected visuals.  

One of STRFKR's dancing astronauts shoots smoke across the stage (Meerah Powell/Emerald)

One of STRFKR’s dancing astronauts shoots smoke across the stage. (Meerah Powell/Emerald)

STRFKR regularly welcomes people dressed like astronauts to dance on stage during their live performances (Meerah Powell/Emerald)

STRFKR regularly welcomes people dressed like astronauts to dance on stage during their live performances. (Meerah Powell/Emerald)

Props, like blow up dolls, are a regular occurrence during STRFKR shows (Meerah Powell/Emerald)

Props, like blow-up dolls, are a regular occurrence during STRFKR shows. (Meerah Powell/Emerald)

STRFKR filled its set with both new and old favorite tracks such as “While I’m Alive,” from the most recent LP Miracle Mile (2013), and “Rawnald Gregory Erickson The Second” from its debut self-titled (2008). The group also put its own spin on a few song covers like Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun,” The Human League’s “Don’t You Want Me,” and New Order’s “Blue Monday.”

Although the group has gained a good amount of name-recognition and fame over the years, seeing the band play its heart out on a intimately small stage might just beat out any festival performance. STRFKR is a band that strives to make its audience happy through both the music itself and through live performances, and this was something that came through clearly to every fan packed into WOW Hall.

Listen to STRFKR’s newest single “Never Ever,” below:

 

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Meerah Powell

Meerah Powell

Meerah Powell is the Digital Managing Editor for The Daily Emerald. She is currently studying journalism and philosophy at the University of Oregon. Before her current position, she worked as an Arts and Culture writer for the Emerald. She's also worked with Oregon Public Broadcasting, Eugene Weekly, Ethos Magazine and OR Magazine.