In recent months it’s been hard to look anywhere in the music media and not see a magazine or local paper hailing the success of Brighton, England’s aggressive six-piece, The Go! Team. The band has been celebrated in the pages of Rolling Stone, Billboard, and Vice, which not-coincidentally have helped create a formidable buzz around their debut album, Thunder, Lightling, Strike. The band’s performances at both SXSW and Pitchfork Media’s Intonation festival have helped establish their identity in America. The Go! Team are different than their current musical colleagues in more ways than one, and it is because of this diversity that they have managed to set themselves apart in the competitive world of music. Currently, the band is headlining an extensive US tour and in the process, are delivering American audiences a wake up call. I was lucky enough to find myself at Chicago’s Metro to witness the Go! Team’s extraordinary performance on Saturday.
I arrived at the venue earlier than anticipated and managed to catch the tail end of the opening act, Tha 446s. The group consisted of twenty members, most of which were backup up dancers, who performed a humorous breed of nerdy hip-hop. Generic commercial beats made for an interesting combination when coupled with the group’s adorning lyrics. However, what I found most charming about Tha 446s was their constant renouncing of their dedication to the “fourth coast” (a.k.a the Great Lakes area). The group’s almost comical commitment to the Midwest resonated well with the audience and ironically set the mood for the evening.
The second act to play, Australian band The Grates, continued to heat things up as they performed a very energetic set of what could be described as the Yeah Yeah Yeahs meets the Go-Gos. The group’s excellent stage presence and up beat tempo got the blood flowing, adding to the mounting excitement. The Grates, who consisted of a female vocalist, a drummer and a single guitar player, made a deep impression. Although the band has only recently released their first EP, The Ouch, The Touch, The Grates catchy vocals and vibrant guitar and drum rhythms could possibly move them to a leading label.
When at last it was time for the Go! Team to take the stage, the crowd began to swell. The event had turned more into a party than a formal show and with so many participants dressed in Halloween regalia, it was hard not to move about the room admiring the creativity. A giant video display projected a series of random super 8mm images that ranged from tigers to kids. The music started and everyone in the band, except front-woman Ninja, began to rock into motion. Then, when the moment was perfect, Ninja burst onto stage completing the team and exciting fans. Next to me a guy in a giant rooster costume jumped rambunctiously up and down, ripping out of his fragile costume as he attempted to participate in the show.
I was first introduced to the team while writing liners for Cornerstone Player 60. In my liner note I conjured the bands sound and persona as, “If the Power Rangers were trained by Andrea 3000 to do battle with the Jackson Five.” However, since having written that statement nearly six months ago, I have realized the band is made of more than just talented musicians. The Go! Team is made of champions and ready for the first rock & roll Wheaties box. In subtle ways the band's positive nature and poignant execution are a triumph for the masses. The Go! Team's unique mix of fluid samples, Roxanne Shante vocals, and funk driven melodies create an anthem for the people, supplying what it seems many of us need most right now - hope.