Portland-based dance-pop outfit Starfucker recently signed to Polyvinyl Records to release their most recent LP, Reptilians, earlier this year. On the label website, their music is described as “dance party meets Roxy Music,” a description I have to commend for its accuracy. Put into layman’s terms, this amounts to “insanely catchy.” Reptilians is an album about death and the end of the world, written shortly after front-man Joshua Hodges’ grandmother passed. While it might seem an oxymoron to listen to joyous, catchy pop with the overarching themes of death and apocalypse, this is ironically what gives Starfucker’s shows such an exuberant nature. There is something liberating about dancing and singing (and smiling) to these subjects – it has been done before (The Smiths, The Drums) and, while possibly not in the same musical style or genre as the aforementioned bands, the poppy, danceable songs about death and depressing subject matter just seem to do it for a lot of people.
After a lengthy sound check, Starfucker were ready to bring home the first day of performances from the Bumbershoot Music Lounge, despite looking like they belonged in a garage somewhere programming code. Typically billed as a trio, Starfucker brought five musicians to the Music Lounge stage and needed every one of them to fill the Lounge with wave upon wave of their sonically dazzling dance effects and instrumentation, sounding something like an arcade on ecstasy. The highlight of the set was “Julius,” one of the standout tracks from Reptilians that might have resulted in more seated head-nodding and knee bouncing than the Music Lounge had seen all day. Despite the threat of sound troubles early on, the only regret of the experience ended up being that we weren’t able to get up and form a dance party.