STRFKR makes a name for themselves in Ithaca

Review: The Portland, Ore., electro-pop act makes an impression on fans and local authorities with an intimate, raucous set.

The alarm continued to wail in rhythm with the music as STRFKR played their version of “Girls Just Want To Have Fun.” None of the 100 or so people in attendance really noticed or reacted, all too busy dancing. Firefighters eventually ushered everyone out of the attic-like space. The lead singer of the local opening act, Bruce Hyde of Blow!, grabbed his equipment and evacuated to the street like everyone else.

Photo: Angelina M. Castillo
Vocalist Ryan Biornstad lets go of his guitar to handle keyboards during STRFKR's recent set at Delilah's in Ithaca.

“Great show tonight.”

“Man, we were just happy to be on the bill.”

Standing outside for 45 minutes because of a glorified fire drill doesn’t sound like the end to a great night, but that’s exactly what it was: An unexpected yet fitting ending to an unexpectedly great show.

STRFKR roughly had 45 minutes of their own in the small upstairs at Delilah’s on Cayuga and they made the most of it. The band stirred the crowd immediately by turning up the amps and their tracks’ tempo for a non-stop, sweaty house party (Yes, like all good house parties, a cop appeared at one point threatening noise violations). Tracks off both their self-titled debut and recent Reptilians albums served as the soundtrack to a scene that would be classified as the place to be on campus no matter what town hosted it. Devoted fans were treated to inspired performances of favorites like “Bury Us Alive” or “Rawnald Gregory Erickson the Second.” New fans got to run home and research the tracks they just heard. They saw a band playing a set to convince you they’re the next big thing.

STRFKR isn’t a household name yet because they won’t allow themselves to be. The band hit the scene in 2008 and piqued the interest of critics who attended their shows and fell in love. Their first record couldn’t go too far, neither could their major tour opportunities, because mainstream marketers rejected the name. It pushed the band to hold a contest for a new one (Pyramidd) that never felt right. Last year they reverted back to STRFKR but still find it being censored, even at Delilah's.  "It's a puritanical society man," said drummer Kiel Corcoran. "The place seemed kinda family, they got frustrated that I was shaving in their bathroom, it didn't surprise me."

This year the band made their second release as STRFKR, Reptilians. The album fits perfectly with the band does live. It’s heavy on layered grooves like “Reptilians” and also on unforgettable synth riffs as in “Death As A Fetish.” If the name on the album read Passion Pit or MGMT, you’d have already heard it in every nearby campus basement.

However, STRFKR seems to enjoy their current status. It allows them to play venues like Delilah’s for just a few hundred folks one night then places that hold nearly 6,000 the next (think slightly larger than Goldstein Auditorium). They still have time to follow their hometown Trailblazers, still have enough anonymity to grab a beer near the venue without worry and still have the responsibility of operating their own tour bus (sometimes in the face of parking enforcement). Their music says they can’t remain under the radar for long, but their name seems to keep them from growing. Maybe that’s the way STRFKR likes it. That's lucky for all of us if it means we can expect more shows like this.

One More for the Road: Tokyo Police Club

Check out our road trip/concert review video of the Canadian indie rockers' show at Soundlab in Buffalo.

Post new comment

* Field must be completed for your comment to appear on The NewsHouse
The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.