Club Mercy and Fulton 55 Present:
875 Divisadero Street
Fresno, CA, 93721
This event is 21 and over
It's hard to say exactly when it happened.
It could've been during one of the 100+ shows STRFKR played over the past two years—ecstatic sold-out dance parties that started in tiny, sweaty rooms before word of mouth spread and forced a move to larger (and even sweatier) venues.
It might've been when touring guitarist Patrick Morris officially became a full-time member in late 2011, rounding out a line-up that included multi-instrumentalists Josh Hodges, Shawn Glassford, and Keil Corcoran.
Most likely, though, there wasn't a single defining moment when the change occurred. With evolution there rarely is.
Instead, progression happens naturally and steadily—each step leading inevitably to the next until you reach a point when you realize how far you've come without even being fully aware of how you got there.
In early 2012, during a rare break in the group's touring schedule, Hodges retreated to secluded Astoria, Oregon. But this time, rather than completely isolating himself to work on new material (as had always been the case in the past), Hodges invited the other members to visit often and truly collaborate in the process of writing STRFKR's third full-length, Miracle Mile.
And so it was that STRFKR became a band.
As a result, whether participating in all-night lyric writing sessions, fleshing out song skeletons originally conceived during European soundchecks ("Malmo") and long van rides ("Leave It All Behind"), or completing half-finished ideas kicking around Hodges' brain and hard drive, there isn't a single song on Miracle Mile that every member of STRFKR didn't contribute to and ultimately improve.
For proof, look no further than first single and opening track "While I'm Alive," a song that bursts out of the gate with what can only be described as swagger. Not overconfidence or false bravado, but the undeniable sound of a band that knows exactly who they are: swirling keyboards that take you up, down, and all around, rhythmic guitars, irresistible basslines, and drums that keep an unrelenting beat.
Disco-y standout "Atlantis" is the paragon of this formula, with vocal and musical hooks seemingly custom fitted to a spot so deep inside your eardrums they'll never dislodge.
But upbeat isn't Miracle Mile's only tempo.
In fact, it's in quieter moments like "Isea," which briefly slows down the album's pulse with gentle "oh-oh-ohs" over acoustic guitar, that the record truly coalesces as a complete whole that couldn't have come together any other way.
Just like STRFKR.
After forming Wampire, Rocky Tinder and Eric Phipps steadily began to make a name for themselves in the same Portland, OR, scene that has produced labelmates STRFKR as well as Unknown Mortal Orchestra. It makes sense, then, that Wampire came to Polyvinyl's attention when the duo opened for STRFKR at a hometown Portland show and that UMO's bassist Jacob Portrait produced Wampire's debut full-length, Curiosity.
The choice of Portrait was a natural one, with both Tinder and Phipps believing he'd be able to contribute almost as much to the record as they would. And so, in mid-August Tinder and Phipps each brought fragments of song ideas into the studio, before deconstructing, re-arranging, and fitting them back together piece by piece -- at times lyrics and melodies were thrown out, brought back from the dead, or improvised on the spot.
This loosely structured approach made the process truly collaborative, with producer Portrait occasionally chipping in ideas for lyrics, arrangements, and instrumentation. The resulting nine tracks are instantly memorable, while defying easy categorization. Says Phipps, "We realized the record began to stray away from having a 'sound' and gradually became a platter with an assortment of sounds. The record showcases a flavor we haven't quite dug into before."
The album's diverse combination of sounds ultimately helped give birth to its title, Curiosity -- a word that invokes the listener's wonder at what will greet their ears next, while also describing the overall curious tone the record possesses.
First single, "The Hearse" serves as the perfect introduction for those unfamiliar with the band -- its opening notes swelling instantly with electronic organs over a driving drum beat. By the time bass and vocals kick in, you're already hooked. Elsewhere, "Orchards" weaves an infectiously breezy melody on the strength of vocal harmonizing, tuneful whistling, and undulating guitar lines. In some cases, Wampire's unique rhythms are best described by the band members, as with "Trains," a Motown-meets-Strokes track that Tinder perfectly summarizes like so: "It's sexy, sounds huge, and by all means should be blamed for future babies."
The album concludes with the equally sensual "Magic Light," a song centered around a dark seductive bass groove that sets the tone for Tinder's come-hither lyrics. It's the kind of track that draws you ever further into the record's beguiling clutches, leaving a lasting impression that remains well after its final notes have faded out.
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