San Francisco Bathhouse
December 15 | Reviewed by Brannavan Gnanalingam

IT’S NOT that often that a band gets sworn at by the crowd at full voice, unless they were about to be lynched. The crowd’s demands for “fuck fuck fuck” wasn’t a misguided attempt at seduction, it was pleading for the Toronto four-piece to re-live their crazed electronic-cum-indie music. Of course, they’re mainly known for their infamous name, and renowned for being made scapegoats by the Conservative Canadian government, but it’s their musical prowess that was the most vivid detail after their Wellington show. Their control of improvisation made a mockery of their professed lack of rehearsal, as the four cavorted with textures and rhythms. The drummer astonished with his metronomic drumming, punctuated by fills that were as loud as a petulant kid trying to get attention. And the music was delivered with a fury that made you want to dance while stand dumbfounded at their control.

The night was opened by local super-band The Pyramid Scheme. Dressed like they were rulers from the computer game Civilization, the band played their polyphonic funk/indie/psychedelia with considerable talent and unity. They also had their own band of dancers, who without meaning to sound like a puritan, served little real purpose beyond an attempt at scenery. But since their rhythm section sounded like it was backing one of the Kutis, I suppose a team of writhing girls in short skirts was apt. The band did bear a strong similarity to other world/indie fusers like Yeasayer (not to mention ‘60s psychedelia), and they had a tendency to meander, but they showcased some promising musicianship and managed to avoid the dreaded cheesy mess that a lot of bands who attempt to play “world music” fall into.

But they warmed the crowd up well, most of whom were already dancing by the time The Pyramid Scheme ended. It was Holy Fuck though, who got the reasonably full crowd moving (it seems to rain every-time there’s a Galesburg/Strange News show in Wellington, which might put off a few people who fear melting in the rain). Holy Fuck played like dervishes, singing into microphones that annihilated voices, or justifiably congratulating themselves on nailing a particular song. There was little crowd interaction, but their beats, driving rhythms and their take on electronic music did that well enough. It was like going to a dance party, but the musicians were never content to rest on a groove piling on more and more layers, or stripping everything back. They knew when to cut themselves off, to not let a particular direction stagnant – this was particularly evident in the barnstorming ‘Royal Gregory’, or their main set closer, ‘Lovely Alien’. It was a stunning performance, and fully justifying their billing as “Toronto’s evil supergroup.”