NEW YORK, NY—You know that song at the end of every show where the band tries to do one last over the top number? Well, that was every song during The Go! Team’s pep rally repertoire. Three guys and three girls played musical chairs with their instruments, vivifying every man, woman, and… zombie? They played to a sold out Bowery Ballroom the Saturday before Halloween, and a few people were in costumes. I saw a great rendition of The Dude from The Big Lebowski toting a bowling bag. I guess he rolls on Shabbos.
The Go! Team would be great as motivational speakers. Each song was a feel good anthem with lyrics like, “I got the power/I got it. You got it.” It definitely worked; the hyped crowd danced and sang along. Their songs bring you back to the schoolyard days of jump rope jamborees, bubblegum grooves and Saturday morning cartoons. Mix in samples from early ’80s action tv shows and old school hip-hop rhymes and you got yourself a nostalgic dance party.
Even their clothes seemed to speak out loud. Bright yellow, pink, blue, and orange shirts painted the stage with the same sensory-packed passion as the music. Plastic lanterns in the shape of owls hung on cords around the drums, glowing wisdom from the stage. They are certainly a talented group of Brits, and on almost every song they switched instruments. The singer would jump back on drums, or the guitarist would move from drums to harmonica. They even had a song with a banjo. With two drum sets, the members were able to show off their percussion chops.
They started with the song “The Power Is On,” and the power didn’t stop as they blasted from songs from their two albums Thunder, Lightning, Strike and Proof Of Youth. From their first album, songs included the dancey “Bottlerocket” and “Everyone’s A V.I.P. To Someone.” The drums and samples stopped completely for one song as drummer Chi, wearing a bright orange shirt with tiger print, sang a soft acoustic ballad over an audience clap-along.
“We came here to rock the microphone. Our aim is to break you down to the bone,” sang the two female leads during the song “LadyFlash.”
The head cheerleader known as Ninja karate chopped her way through a series of ’80s dance moves during one number. The fans watched in great jubilation as she went from the running man to the Chinese typewriter to milking the cow; I would have needed an ’80s dance manual just to keep track. Ninja’s cheerleading during “Grip Like A Vice” invited the fans to shout. After she called, “Girls are you with us/fellas are you with us,” each gender screamed. Her rapping has an old school flavor circa late ’70s/early ’80s— think Sugar Hill Gang.
Ninja and female guitarist Kaori livened up the stage with choreographed dancing during songs. Kaori sang songs, provided backing vocals, and even switched to a melodica during their hit “Huddle Formation.” She was even impressive back on the drums, banging away at the skins.
“I want to see some dancing,” said Ninja, after the crowd cheered them back to the stage for the encore. Before the next song, Ninja made sure they sang the chorus to get the timing down. The fans enjoyed being part of the band as they cheered, “Do it! Do it! Right!” The last song of the evening was “Titanic Vandalism,” which has their trademark sound of double-dutch chants meets retro tv action themes.
This collage of different tastes sort of wears thin through their set. A lot of the songs sound the same. Also the double dutch diva dancing front and center steals the show from the rest of the talented artists. It would be one thing if Ninja was a solo act, but one might not admire the virtuoso musicians changing instruments because of her antics. When I asked one enthused fan what they thought about the scurrying around after each song, they said they didn’t even notice the members switching positions.
Maybe that’s what The Go! Team want: the amalgamation of sounds to harmonize not only with the ears, but also with the eyes. The listeners don’t get distracted where the parts come from, but just the overall sound itself. Though, it’s not hard to pick out the ol’ skool rapping, which, to my surprise, the indie rockers at the show loved. Didn’t they always sulk at pep rallies in high school? The truth is, everybody wants to dance, and with groups like The Go! Team, they surely will. For the price of admission to one of their shows, you will receive a cool flashback montage of your childhood. Jump rope not included.