1. If STRFKR’s headlining set was a football game, I’d have turned it off at halftime, then forever regretted missing an epic finish. A sizeable crowd stood around and stared for the Portland indie quartet’s first 30 minutes, then suddenly snapped to it, turning a large swath of the Beauty Bar’s back patio into the frenzied dance scene I’d expected from the start. The band admitted it was tired on the final night of a lengthy tour, but the setlist might have had more to do with the energy fluctuation. STRFKR saved most of its catchiest, synthiest stuff for its stretch run, and songs like “Atlantis,” “While I’m Alive” and “Julius” prodded many a stoic body from its stupor, even resulting in …
2. A moshpit. At a STRFKR show. Yes, on and off for the set’s second half, a bunch of dudes—and a few ladies—mixed it up somewhat aggressively in front of the stage, and didn’t go unnoticed by the band. “Is there really a circle pit down there?” bassist Shawn Glassford asked at one point, then added with uncertainty, “Yeah ... Vegas.”
3. Another strange moment during STRFKR’s set: the appearance of a bear-costumed friend of the band (?), who danced onstage with a wooden staff in one hand, then stage-dove into the protective arms of the crowd below. Less successful: ensuing stage dives from random individuals, several of whom appeared to plunk down harshly on the concrete below after some half-hearted efforts to keep them afloat.
4. STRFKR’s giant LED wall might not have dazzled by Electric Daisy Carnival standards, but considering its MacGyvered, DIY build, it was impressive nonetheless, syncing with the music to produce vibrant colors, shapes and images. Also cool to see Kid Meets Cougar screen-master Brett Bolton geeking out to its presentation from the crowd.
5. Feelings, one of STRFKR’s two openers, easily qualified as one of the strangest acts I’ve seen. Half emotional synth-pop music project, half performance-art experiment, the set found one-man-band Ian Anderson (no, not the Jethro Tull guy) alternating between long, uncomfortable stories about ... stuff, and keyboard-and-vocal tunes that were catchy, confrontational or both. And sometimes, Anderson laid down on the stage and beat himself in the face with his microphone.
Bonus: Kudos to one-time Las Vegan Keil Corcoran, STRFKR’s drummer, for staying up to date on scene happenings in his former town. Toward the end of his band’s set, he encouraged the crowd to help with the ongoing effort to restore the Huntridge Theatre, a vital venue here during his youth.