STRFKR, Chrome Sparks, Feelings, and Crowd-Surfing Astronauts at Grand Central Miami

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With Chrome Sparks and Feelings

Grand Central, Miami

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Better Than: It was a Tuesday night. How did you spend yours?

At one point during last night's triumphant set by Starfucker (STRFKR), the bright lights that danced and coalesced behind band members cooled, and the stage was very suddenly crowded by the likes of a dancing Gumby, what looked like a Pokémon, an elephant, and an astronaut (Apollo era, not the Daft Punk kind), all of which proceeded to surf atop the waiting arms of the dancing fans that flooded Grand Central's cavernous hall.

The outlandish scene, perfectly soundtracked by Starfucker's unique brand of electro-pop, was just a standard Tuesday-night Starfucker-ing in Miami.

See also: STRFKR at Grand Central: The 40-Photo Slideshow

The show opened with Feelings, a solo artist hailing from the Southern Hemisphere who kicked it off with a set of emotionally articulated synth-pop that he rounded out with distinct post-Bowie croons and cries.

But you know, the plain t-shirt that Feelings appeared in kind betrayed the grandeur of his music.

Though Feelings was the first act on the bill in a town notorious for snubbing openers to chat at the bar or make a late entrance, the crowd was attentive and even chanted for an encore at the end of the performance, which was unfortunately not a possibility as the rather mysterious Feelings had already broken down too much of his gear by the time the crowd realized the set was officially over.

Just as Chrome Sparks took the stage, a report of rolling bass rattled the clothing and drinks of the crowd. A melange of electronic bleeps and bloops, sweeping synth wash, live drumming, and an assortment of organic percussion created what might be described as the ideal soundtrack to a psychotropic trip through Epcot Center.

Some people have categorized Chrome Sparks' brand of electro under the much-maligned chillwave umbrella. But the group's psychedelic take on the genre is quite a bit more imaginative than most similar fare, and last night's set had the crowd dancing and sweating as video clips of CGI mermaids and other spacey visual flourishes floated about on the screen behind the stage.

At the end of the group's set, the chill vibes had maybe gotten past the point of a good time and Chrome Sparks did the only thing it could to finish strong: Throw down a thumping slab of rolling bass and cranking electro to reignite the crowd's dance lust. And so, the sweaty crowd gave a positively riotous salute to the crew at the end of the track.

A short time later, Starfucker's upbeat blasts of synthesizer and twinkling guitars called the crowd back from Grand Central's smokey patio and crowded restrooms in a hurried bustle.

Colorful visuals blinded the audience and caused the Portland-based group to look like shadows floating across the stage. Frontman Joshua Hodges donned what appeared to be a dress of some sort with exaggerated shoulders that gave hime the silhouette of a Romulan.

Starfucker punctuated its wispy electro stomps with funky guitars, thumping bass, and Hodges' unique falsetto. The sexy grooves of the set reached back through the band's discography, but the tracks pulled from 2011's Reptilians -- particularly "Julius" and "Bury Us Alive" -- turned the crowd into a vibrating puddle of alcohol, sweat, and smiling faces.

When the previously mentioned costumed party patrol hit the stage towards the end of the set, things got even trippier as clouds of balloons and a storm of streamers erupted over the outlandish weekday getdown.

The set felt airy and innocent -- a far cry from the debauchery one might expect of an electro show that included costumed dance warriors.

The night ended with a single synth key left sustaining, ringing out for what felt like an eternity (or possibly a cover of some deep Brian Eno cut).

However, Starfucker returned for an encore that featured "Mona Vegas," a sigh-inducing prelude to the band's farewell that betrayed the actual closing track, the band's rendition of Cyndi Lauper's "Girls Just Want To Have Fun" which initially appeared on Jupiter.

It was a wild party. And there was more colorful detritus cluttering the floor than an '80s space prom.

Goodnight, STRFKRs and Earthlings.

Critic's Notebook

Personal bias: Peripheral fan.

Random detail: There was a small scuffle between a few fans at one point during the STRFKR set. Who fights at a show filled with happy cartoon characters? What the hell?

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