chkchkchk1(Photos: Dan Kulpa)

Portland’s Bunk Bar is the kind of intimate venue where, minutes after a raucous show, you can walk right up to a band’s lead singer at the bar and ask what’s printed on his boxer shorts. Turns out flamboyant !!! (pronounced “chk-chk-chk”) front man Nic Offer was wearing Rolling Stones boxers along with his black T-shirt as he danced and gyrated on stage–which at Bunk Bar is only a slab raised a couple feet off the ground. He spent some time down in the audience too and danced on the bar at one point. The kinetic crowd ate up every minute.

But while PBR tall boy-fueled conversations with the lead singer about his underwear are best left for late night, when seeing a sold-out show at such a small venue as Bunk Bar, it helps to get there early. Opening band White Arrows, one year off their stellar debut Dry Land Is Not a Myth, is no stranger to Bunk Bar. I had the good fortune to see them headline there in 2012. This time they were already tinkering with their gear for the sound check as the crowd began to filter in. At one point, with the venue still only half full, they launched into a full version of the catchy “Get Gone” that garnered some casual applause and prompted lead singer Mickey Church to comment, “That’s the first time we’ve ever gotten applause for the sound check.”

Around 10pm, White Arrows returned and went on to play an infectious opening set. As if the epic eagle-and-lightning T-shirt on drummer Henry Church (brother of the lead singer) wasn’t enough, Mickey donned a shoulder-length, aquamarine wig for the second half of the set, and before their tune “Golden” he announced, “This is a good song to smoke weed to,” though nobody did. And after they closed out their highly danceable set, one that more than primed the pump for the impending !!! throw-down, Church complimented the crowd by saying, “I wish every night could be Portland.”

Thankfully, the set break wasn’t terribly long and !!! soon emerged to a well-lubricated crowd. The band’s opener was spot-on, with the protracted intro of “Get That Rhythm Right.” By the time the throbbing bassline hit, the boxers-clad Offer took the stage, already swinging his arms in frenetic dance. Early in the show, the vocals sounded buried under the bass and beats, but the sound guys seemed to get that ironed out by the time the Sacramento natives hit “Californiyeah,” also from their new album THR!!!ER. With the mic cord wrapped around his neck, Offer made frequent gesturing acknowledgments of guitarist Mario Andreoni’s licks, which made it seem all the odder that bassist Tyler Pope (a former member of LCD Soundsystem who has also written songs for Cake) was tucked away near the back of the stage. As good as Andreoni is, it’s Pope’s shuffling and bouncy bass lines that are !!!’s pulse.

As the set progressed through a healthy dose of songs from the new album (the banger “Slyd” serving as one of the show’s many highlights) and some oldie-but-goldies like “Heart of Hearts” and “All My Heroes Are Weirdos,” the crowd got rowdier. Offer’s forays into the midst of us and, as mentioned, atop the bar itself near the set’s end, only further ramped up the dance party atmosphere. Sunglasses were donned, beers were spilled, there was not a motionless person in the building. Offer’s antics have come to define !!!’s live performances, and he didn’t disappoint in the band’s stop in Portland. Seeing them live, especially in such an up-close-and-personal venue like Bunk Bar, only makes their boisterous studio albums better.

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