A set list, a wad of confetti, a bass pick and a lasting feeling of euphoria. These are just a few things that my friends and I took home from the STRFKR concert with Psychic Twin at Icon Lounge on Saturday night.
STRFKR hails from Portland, Oregon and started with Joshua Hodges (vocals, keyboards, guitar, drums). Other longtime members are Keil Corcoran (drums, keyboards, vocals) and Shawn Glassford (bass, keyboards, drums).
Hodges chose the name “STRFKR” as a political commentary on music culture, and the name is certainly more scandalous than the innocuous synth sounds they create.
STRFKR just released “Vault Vol. 1,” a 20-track compilation of previously unreleased music dating all the way back to their formation in 2007. Some of the music in this vault of STRFKR history is acoustic, some synth.
However, this tour started as the November 2016 release of their 8-track album “Being No One, Going Nowhere.” This album is their most catchy pop effort yet, while still sounding like it comes from another planet.
“Satellite” is one particular track that has a pleasing blend of bass, guitar and synth to send listeners off into space.
“Stellar” seemed to be the theme of the night. Every note brought a different sense of euphoria, while the crowd was washed in different beams of light and strobes all night.
Of course, no STRFKR show would be complete without dancing astronauts, either. They even had authentic NASA patches on their suits.
Even those who aren’t STRFKR fans or find the electronic genre to be uninspired can agree that STRFKR puts on a good show. Band members will often cross-dress or do drag, the astronauts shoot off confetti guns, the lighting is on point and there are plenty of opportunities to crowd surf.
Towards the end of their set, the astronauts whipped out a big inflatable swan and one of them hopped on it and surfed.
The best songs of the night were “Atlantis,” the heartbreaking “German Love” and “Medicine,” a pop song that always reminds me to get on top of things, like taking medicine and remembering birthdays.
STRFKR is also known for playing covers. I’ve seen them cover “Blue Monday” by New Order, their electropop ancestors, on YouTube.
The last time I caught them at Icon, they played a cover of “Don’t You Want Me” by The Human League, an ‘80s one-hit wonder. I can’t hear that song now without remembering that night.
They also have a cover recorded of “Girls Just Want To Have Fun” by Cyndi Lauper, which is always a hit with both the girls and guys in the crowd.
An encore prompted the band to play their most poignant song, “Isabella of Castile.” One thing to love about STRFKR is the juxtaposition of their peppy synths and their simple yet sentimental lyrics.
The song goes, “I know I should go / but I want to stay here with you / in this room, I can tell / you’ll never be all mine.” The theme is sweet and pure, a truly beautiful song worth a listen.
Bassist Shawn Glassford is originally from Sioux Falls, and his upbringing must be why STRFKR’ has visited the city thrice. This was their final tour date before heading west in March to kick off the second round of their tour with Psychic Twin. There was a point in the night where he even invited the crowd to sing “Happy Birthday” to his father, who was in a little VIP section off to the side of the stage.
I had never heard of Psychic Twin before, but it was a treat to see them open for STRFKR. Psychic Twin is made up of Erin Fein (vocals, synth) and Rosana Caban (drums, vocals, synth).They created a soundscape of new-wave synths, looping vocals and electric drums unlike any other.
A few songs into their set, they jokingly introduced themselves as best friends traveling from another planet through space and time.
The pair were very genuine and said they were excited to be playing in Sioux Falls with STRFKR. They also danced in astronaut helmets later in the night.
All in all, it was a perfect night. I was lucky enough to make it to the front row.
At the end of the set, Glassford offered me his set list. I looked up to him, both literally during the set as well as metaphorically. He’s one more example of someone who made it out of Sioux Falls, and made it big.
Thank you, Sioux Falls. That was truly out-of-this-world.