The Photo Atlas, 3OH!3 Saturday, January 5, 2008 The Gothic Theater Better than: Spending your mom’s money on another studded wristband.
Last night’s local bill at the Gothic was an all-ages match made in heaven. Though co-headliners the Photo Atlas and 3OH!3 have a diverse following, both found huge support among the jailbait crowd, and that couldn’t have been more clear at this show. In fact, I’d wager that more than half of the sold-out (that’s right) crowd was underage.
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This is the first chance I’ve had to catch the Photo Atlas with its new drummer, Nick Miles. I’ve always felt that Devon Shirley contributed a great deal to the band’s sound, so I was prepared to be disappointed. The artists formerly known as Atlas, however, did not let me down. While it’s too soon for Miles to add his own style to the group’s music, it was clear that he has carefully studied Shirley’s playing and was able to reproduce that with astonishing accuracy and the requisite athleticism. Meanwhile, bassist Mark Hawkins and guitarist Bill Threlkeld threw down their parts with the aggressive energy and powerful stage presence that they have clearly honed and nearly perfected during more than a year of heavy national touring. With the right mix of ballsy bravado and shivering sensitivity, frontman Alan Andrews once again had the caffeine-cranked audience eating Pop Rocks out of the palm of his hand. It was nice to have these boys playing on their home field again and seeing that the road, while exhausting, has turned them into even more powerful performers than they were previously.
However, few local or national acts take the stage with as much power as 3OH!3. As soon as Nathaniel Motte began to set up his laptop on the stage, the keyed up crowd began dutifully throwing up the outfit’s gang sign and chanting, “3! OH! 3! What!” at an impressive volume. Motte threw bottles of water to folks in the appreciative crowd who were unable to quench their thirst at the bar. When unlikely-yet-mighty MC Sean Foreman finally joined Motte onstage, the audience went into a full-blown frenzy. As the duo hurtled through a set of tracks from its debut album, old live standards and some new tracks, the crowd bounced, surged and gang-signed with the kind of fervor usually reserved for huge stars. Due to their comic, eclectic and unique approach to hip-hop and electro, Motte and Foreman have been filling theaters since shortly after their inception. They’re old pros at working a venue like the Gothic – making eye contact with the kids in the pit, pointing at a slightly disengaged attendee in the balcony, and generally whipping the audience into a lather. With rock-solid beats, deft lyricism and dorky, synchronized dance moves, 3OH!3 put on yet another infectiously fun show.
The star of the night, however, just might have been the crowd. The beauty of the under-21 set is that they always seem much less hampered by self-consciousness and judgment. While we old folks stood at the back with folded arms and tried not to spill our beers, these kids came to have fun and would let nothing stand in the way. I can’t remember the last non-punk show I saw with more moshing, crowd surfing and stage diving. Keep an eye on those kids – they just might be able to teach you something. – Eryc Eyl
Critic’s Notebook Personal Bias: I prefer catching both of these acts in much smaller venues, but that time is gone – at least for a while. Random Detail: Before 3OH!3 took the stage, the crowd began to crush together and move back and forth across the floor en masse. One teenager who showed up at that moment shouted, “We’re just in time! They’re pushing!” By the Way: Though Sean Foreman has forsaken the 303 area code for 718 – where he shares a Brooklyn loft with another Colorado expat, Timothy Thomas Cleary – he has been back in his hometown for the past month, working on tracks for the new 3OH!3 record, release date TBD. Also, keep your eyes open later this year for a record from Foreman’s singer-songwriter alter ego, Corpsey. The beautifully melancholy and intensely personal songs showcase a side of the musician that is no joke. Damn: I regret missing the openers, Distrakt and the Chain Gang of 1974. The latter, in particular, is an act I’ve wanted to catch live for some time, but always manage to miss. The one-man electro-disco-beat-crazy project of former Vanity frontman, Kam Mohager, TCGO1974 will officially release its latest CD, Mad Paranoid, in March.