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!!! and Maserati
By Rob Harvilla
The Studio B soundman, over the PA, midway through the set, with regards to !!! frontman Nic Offer:
“Hey guys. Please don’t lean on the lighting rig. It’s not very stable.”
A female patron filing out of Studio B at the set’s conclusion an hour or so later, with regards to !!! frontman Nic Offer:
“I was worried his balls were comin’ out a couple times there.”
Your humble author, recalling his first impression of !!! for a California newspaper, upon first seeing the band back in 2003 at the San Francisco club Bottom of the Hill, with regards to !!! frontman Nic Offer:
“ ‘Blaaaaaaagh!’ he concluded, as I hoisted him by the seat of his pants and dragged him down the length of Bottom of the Hill’s bar, which for the purpose of this daydream had morphed into a giant buffet table. Nic involuntarily waded through a murky sea of mashed potatoes, gravy, applesauce, rigatoni, cottage cheese, chocolate pudding, and various salad bar ephemera. Our interaction concluded, I tossed him through the club’s enormous plate-glass front window (another stylistic daydream invention).”
Yes, Nic Offer swung momentarily, precariously from Studio B’s lighting rig, punctuating a spastic, insouciant, vaguely lewd stage presence somehow combining Jim Morrison, Betty Boop, and a nutcracker. Yes, he wore tiny blue shorts that left nothing to the imagination save the method you would use to commit suicide. And yes, upon first regarding !!! back in the day, I fantasized about dragging him down a fully loaded buffet table and throwing him out a plate-glass window. I’m not proud of this. But I meant no real harm or offense. He annoyed me, is all. But seeing them now, commanding another raucous Studio B crowd, teaching the indie kids to dance again, etc., I realize antagonizing the audience is part of the idea here. Anything to get a reaction, so on and so forth. So Nic dances in an odd, robotic style, a metronomic hip movement complimented by his gaping mouth (that’s the nutcracker part), as if he’s about to spit out a gumball. The crowd is a great deal more thrilled than annoyed.
He is the right man for the job, the job being to cheerlead his prodigious band of punk-funk musketeers through a rock-band engagement with the confident flow and crescendoing grandiosity of a DJ set, climaxing with (!) newer tunes “Must Be the Moon” (sweet bassline) and “Heart of Hearts” (sweet female vocalist to counteract Nic’s deliberate boorishness). The total package, elation and aggravation alike, makes sense as Nic shouts “Like a give a FUCK” repeatedly, but it is a relief when he knocks it off for a couple minutes and leaves the heavy lifting to a momentary cadre of three drummers (anchored by the excellent Jerry Fuchs, whose equally excellent metronomic post-rock band Maserati opened up) and one hell of a guitarist. He is a tremendously singular frontman—you should be glad both that he exists and that there’s only one of him.
On an unrelated note, I received the following mid-set text message from, as it happens, a gentleman in San Francisco, also at a rock concert:
“Au Revoir Simone need haircuts, music lessons, and roughly a mile of **CENSORED**.”