05.21.10 | Fillmore Auditorium
"We just released another new song on iTunes," says Nat Motte, riding the fervor of the crowd, pacing back and forth across the stage. "It's called (pause for effect) 'Touchin On My'!"
The animatronic wolves with green laser beam eyes continue to scan the ceiling, nodding no over and over again. They are called Gary and Warren, we have learned, named after Motte and Sean Foreman's dads.
Foreman says they're soon going to replace their real dads (who are in attendance) with the wolves.
"Unless our dads get laser beams coming out of their eyes," says Motte.
The lung-shreding continues. There is absolutely nothing either member of 3OH!3 can do that will not earn a screaming, Beatlemania response from the home town crowd of underage kids in matching T-shirts.
"Touchin On My" is purely ridiculous, straight out of the Saturday Night Live Digital Short playbook. But the kids are buying, and some adults too, and they all can't wait to empty their wallets on whatever garbage 3OH!3 upchucks at them. And why shouldn't they -- there's no denying the zest for life in these songs, and it clearly makes these people happy. So the question is: Who is the joke on?
Or maybe it's best not to ask questions. That seems to be the guiding principle of 3OH!3, anyway, and it's working just fine for them. This started, remember, as pretty much exactly like Saturday Night Live, some hilarious shit to play their friends. Add a little electro and suddenly they have a few thousand more friends than they did before, and now they can pack Denver's largest non-arena venue on a consistent basis. Why they're doing it, what their vision is -- that is not the line of thought that leads you to be a fan.
This visit to Denver came courtesy of the Too Fast For Love tour, co-featuring Cobra Starship (whose hand symbol is way lamer than 3OH!3's, in case you were curious) and with Travie McCoy and I Fight Dragons filling the role of special guests.
Although I'm guessing Travie McCoy was really good, and I Fight Dragons was really bad, I wouldn't know how the guests were because, due to a conflict, we couldn't get to the show until 8 p.m. Yes, 8 p.m. and they were already sound-checking the drum set of the third band. That puts the start time of this show at no later than 6:30 p.m. All told, concerned parents of show-going teens wouldn't have had to wait up much past 11 p.m., and that includes the drive home.
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Cobra Starship is apparently a huge deal -- am I dating myself if I say I only know them as a band that wrote a song for Snakes On A Plane? No? Now, before angry fans of the Cobra get all "ignore this asshole, he's not even a fan," I'd point out that this isn't exactly the sort of music you have to really live with for a while to understand.
I went through a pop-punk phase just like the rest of my generation, and there are maybe four possible iterations of the same basic theme: Tight pants, power chords and lilting vowel-holding. This brand has a keyboard, which gives them the dubious distinction of having Panic! At The Disco as their most talented reference point. There's a little Fall Out Boy going on there, too, which isn't surprising since Cobra's on FOB's Fueled By Ramen imprint.
Cobra guitarist Rylan Blackinton, late in the set, described his band as the first entrée, and 3OH!3 as the main entrée, a statement that earned screams (natch) but didn't make a damn bit of sense. This is a band whose self-stated sole purpose is to be your guilty pleasure, and 3OH!3 as a main entrée? As in a band with substance? Remember the laser-beam dad-wolves?
CRITIC'S NOTEBOOK Personal Bias: I think 3OH!3 is a pair of incredibly smart and interesting people doing exactly what anyone would do if dealt their particular hand of cards. By The Way: Cobra Starship has a song where they ripped the verses off T.I.'s "Whatever You Like" so blatantly it should be plagiarism. Random Detail: There were a lot of parent/chaperones at this show. That did not stop their young wards from enthusiastically singing along with Cobra Starship as they sang, over and over again, "I make them good girls go bad." That facial expression on the parents' faces? Worth the ticket price all by itself.