The Go! Team Mercury Lounge, New York City NY - March 21, 2005
Published Jan 01, 2006Word that multi-cultural Brighton brigade the Go! Team were playing their only North American dates (outside of SXSW) in NYC was enough to get me to immediately book a plane ticket. The Go! Team's effervescent Thunder, Lightning, Strike hasn't even officially been released in North America, but its giddy mash-up of genres landed the record on most critics' year-end lists, and everyone and their roommate has an import copy uploaded to their iPods. And so the scenesters were lined up down the block for the second of the Team's sold-out three-night NYC stand. Not that the UK sextet was about to take playing New York for granted - opening with a raucous, guitar-heavy version of “Panther Dash,” they were soon joined onstage by front-woman Ninja. Equal parts MC and soul singer, she quickly became the focus of the entire set, slyly coaxing the crowd into getting involved. Poking fun at New York's reputation for having the most jaded audiences around, she baited them with her very first salvo: “I've heard they don't dance in New York.” Well, dance they did, and chant and sing. You really haven't lived until you've seen a packed house of cooler-than-thou city slickers pumping their fists in the air and yelling, “Go team!” It was a hipster pep rally, with Ninja playing head cheerleader. While it would have been nice to hear from some of her band-mates, she's the glue that holds it all together. Like any large group with a sound so all over the map, there were weak spots: programmed samples replaced all the horn parts and the band seemed to fear a straight-up reading of the record's instrumental tracks, getting Ninja to throw vocals over nearly every song whether they were needed or not. But with two ferocious girl drummers, a guitarist who made harmonica sound like the coolest indie rock instrument around and an arsenal of sunshiny tunes played fast and loud, only the truly cynical could really nitpick. The Go! Team's “Bottle Rocket” features the indelible phrase, “C'mon everybody, let's rock this place!” Mission accomplished.