!!!, 100 Club, London <!-- none onestar twostar threestar fourstar fivestar -->

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The Independent Culture

"Now, we can run just a little bit harder than the Pistols," says !!!'s singer, Nic Offer, sweating hard in scruffy shorts and T-shirt. "But it's gonna take you. And I'm gonna be the inspirational speaker tonight..." It gives a sense of what this bristly US seven-piece are like: prone to statement-sized talk of dance-driven insurrection, yet packing enough punk-funk-flavoured firepower to back it up.

!!!'s (the apparent pronunciation is "chk-chk-chk") grab-you-by-the-unspeakables approach hasn't met with emphatic success yet, outside the buzz over their nine-minute single, "Me and Giuliani Down By the School Yard (A True Story)", and their 2004 album, Louden up Now. But, of the New York-based nu-funkers to have emerged of late, they rank alongside the fine LCD Soundsystem in terms of potential, rather than such weightless almost-rans as Radio 4 and The Rapture. And with press and airplay being meted out to !!!'s current single, a slinky-funky cover of the Magnetic Fields' lugubrious "Take Ecstasy with Me", they may find their audience yet.

!!! open with "Ecstasy" tonight and, while it's slower than their average song, it builds a picture of what's to come. Offer ends the song by joining the drummer on percussion, before hurling himself into an exuberant dance that sees him hammering on the wall at the back of the stage. "Has everyone taken their pills?", he asks. It isn't that kind of night - the ideal setting for !!! might be some subterranean club at 1am - but it's clearly the sense of occasion Offer wants for his gigs.

If !!! don't quite meet with a loved-up frenzy in the crowd, though, the on-stage bustle compensates. !!!'s sound is typically percussive, with their Chic-style guitars, clattering drums and nimble basslines played harsh. At times, they sound like a lithe and strapping glam-rock band covering Stevie Wonder's "Higher Ground"; at others, like a lighter, busier Red Hot Chili Peppers.

When he's not reaching for a Michael Jackson-ish falsetto, Offer's terse, breathy singing style sees him spitting words out in an adenoidal fashion. His lyrics tend towards simple sloganeering, but he knows it: the vocals are intended to impact as part of the hot flush of sound.

!!!'s anarchic fervour may not be deep, then. But as brassy horns and an extra vocalist flesh out the frenetic closing run of the set, it's clear they know how to make a damn funky show out of it.

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