Supersystem La Sala Rossa, Montreal QC - January 16, 2006

"It smells like a big, fat joint in here." So said a bemused Pete Cafarella (Supersystem's co-singer and electronics man), who seemed almost as entertained by the crowd's dancing as we were by the band's tight, funky dance-rock sound. The DC/NYC-based band (minus drummer Josh Blair) was once El Guapo, but changed their name to differentiate themselves from a corporate-sponsored Chicago band of the same name and to get a fresh start. And it's nothing if not fresh. Their debut album, Always Never Again, stands out amid all the Gang of Four wannabes because the lyrics and vocals are sharp and loveably nerdy, and guitarist Rafael Cohen's tricky, propulsive picking is lively and easy on the ears, not unlike Talking Heads' Africana number from their Brian Eno period, "I Zimbra." While we danced, and Cafarella casually took in the scene with his eyes and nose, Justin "Destroyer" Moyer appeared to be experiencing the event on another level entirely. The bassist and co-Chaunter (who's more chanteuse in his side-project, Edie Sedgwick, a celebrity tribute in drag) was a treat to watch. Skinny, bug-eyed and agitated, the guy did more with his neck in 45 minutes than some people do in a lifetime, and when he wasn't swerving, stomping, twitching or teaching the mic stand a lesson, he scratched his head and stared at the audience in wide-eyed terror. Trying to tap into his state of mind conjured up passages from Hunter S. Thompson stories, though I suspect this guy was only high on the music. It was that good.