The only time most people have heard STRFKR’s music is from a 2009 Target ad. They are a band where no one will recognize their name, but if the song from that ad is played, “Rawnald Gregory Erickson the Second,” it is immediately recognized by most folks. The song very much sounds like a radio-friendly pop hit, with its slowly bouncing rhythm and lyrics that are quite easy to sing along to. Despite this fact, it never caught on with mainstream music fans.
That situation sums up STRFKR’s career and music thus far. They make incredibly catchy pop music for non-pop music fans. Instead their synth-heavy songs, which span five albums, are tailor-made for the indie music scene. With music only a few degrees away from blending in with mainstream pop, one might wonder if there is a sizeable following for a band that has a hard time fitting into a genre.
Thursday night soundly answered that question, with STRFKR playing to a packed Ready Room, a feat not many artists can do on a weeknight.
The line to enter the venue wrapped around the block at 9 p.m., the start time of opener Psychic Twin. By the time the line cycled through, the band was on the second half of its set. The aptly named band (the two members are twin sisters) had a commanding stage presence for an opening act. They wore bizarre, seemingly plastic outfits that perfectly complimented their futuristic sounding, spaced-out sound. Ending after a quick 45-minute set, the band seemed genuinely ecstatic at the warm reception of the crowd.
It was in the half hour between the artists of the evening in which it was fully realized how hard it would be to peg the crowd. The only common thread was age. There were very few people above 30. Aside from that, it was a complete toss-up as to the people who were in attendance. There were mega-hipsters with thick beards and button-up shirts, SLU and Wash U students who had obviously had a bit too much to drink before the show and plenty of people somewhere in between those two.
Though this dynamic seemed incredibly strange, none of it mattered as soon as the band took the stage. In addition to the four members of the band, four additional people walked on with the band, each wearing full astronaut outfits. With no delay, the band dove into their 2013 standout track “Atlantis,” instantly getting the crowd to dance as if it were a command from the keyboard’s rhythm.
The astronauts heightened the vibes of the party, frolicking around the stage while also trying to not get in the way of the band. They shimmied, shook and on multiple occasions, crowd surfed— much to the delight of all those in attendance. Being on stage for well over half of the show, these dancers from space took the role as the main line of communication from the band to the crowd.
The band members, despite their outfits involving wigs, loads of jewelry and giant sunglasses, were all business throughout the set that stretched just past 90 minutes. The only time they stopped in between songs was to change up instruments. A passing comment from singer Joshua Hodges before the last song of the main set, thanking the crowd for coming, was the only comment made toward fans all night.
And while the band may have appeared a bit cold for not acknowledging much about the evening, they also did not let their comments get in the way of the phenomenal music they played to perfection. The set sprinkled hits evenly throughout deeper tracks of theirs, each song seeming to have heavier bass and synth riffs than the last.
“Open Your Eyes,” a standout track from last year’s release “Being No One, Going Nowhere” provided the perfect environment for a ridiculously huge dance party to break out. “Rawnald Gregory” predictably garnered a huge reaction from the crowd, who sang along with each line.
It was not a STRFKR original that provided the most surreal moment of the evening, however. That came courtesy of the one cover they performed, that of Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Want to Have Fun.” One might think an 80s staple may not land well with the crowd that was not even alive when it was released, but they would be sorely mistaken. From the unmistakable opening bass line, the crowd lost their collective mind. Dancing, swaying and screaming each lyric at the top of their lungs was a collective action by every person in attendance.
Lauper’s song may say that only girls want to have fun, but it was much more than girls that had fun on Thursday. Everyone in the Ready Room just wanted to have fun, and were able to easily accomplish that goal with the help of STRFKR.