words & photos by Ben Lozovsky
The Go! Team returned after a three-year lull stateside, bringing their outrageous Saturday morning cartoon funk assault to Brooklyn Bowl Saturday (the second of two NYC shows that included Bowery Ballroom earlier in the week).
On what might be the band's final tour ever, according to group founder Ian Parton, there was never an air of finality or remembrance. From the second the booming beat proclamation that introduced opening number "T.O.R.N.A.D.O." rang out, it was unwaveringly go time for The Go! Team. The band rarely dialed down the raucousness while highlighting the understated yet notable growth on their third and latest album, Rolling Blackouts. There's a darker mood to many of the tracks on the disc, including album bookends "T.O.R.N.A.D.O." and "Back Like 8 Track." On numbers like those, the band managed to provide a seesaw soundtrack for all the pissed-off tweens out there hell-bent on revenge on whoever their oppressor might be. This is monkey-bar brawl music, with a nuanced adult edge- tighter production, unpredictable structure shifts, and jarring atonal horn and orchestral samples demonstrated the band's interest in augmenting its template with intrigue and sophistication.
The band has also embraced its girl power side more than ever. MC Ninja's assault was never much concerned with showcasing the delicacy and emotional depth of the fairer sex, but new tracks like "Ready to Go Steady" and "Secretary Song" have a doo-wop and garage-pop girl group pureness and softness to them. The bitter-sweat jangle of sunny "Buy Nothing Day," one of the standouts of Blackouts, was like an empowering acknowledgement of the confusing burdens of female adolescence.
Even as their music gets more nuanced, the band still bewilder with their live performance. All six members frantically ran around the stage, switching between guitar, drums and keyboards, as well as odder instruments like melodica, steel drums, banjo, and even a type-writer. They created walls of sound and guitar distortion, broke them down with crisp chorus singing, and leaped and cheerleaded at any moment that felt big enough (which was at least several times a song).
They might have had a bit too much fun, because as the band finished their performance with a giant group dog pile, Ninja appeared to have hurt herself fairly bad while caught in the middle. She was carried off-stage when she couldn't lift herself up, and was later evaluated by medics in an ambulance outside, flanked by all her concerned band mates.
Ninja later posted this message to Facebook:
Ninja says: Ended up in hospital last night after the Brooklyn show. A band member body-slammed me in the ribs! (All in the name of rock) Thought I had a punctured lung. X-rays showed no broken bones but I'm still sore. Spent the night in a Manhattan A&E with Sam and kept expecting an actor from Grey's Anatomy to walk past. It happened on stage and I think the crowd thought it was part of the show. Nuff scary.Even as an unpleasant end to a riotous and enthusiastic performance, it was proof that this team sticks together through it all. More pictures from the show, including one of the setlist, below...
Also, thank you Brooklyn for braving the violent weather to watch our violent show.