The multi-pronged dance-punk symbiosis of !!! (pronounced by stringing together any thrice-repeated bit of language, Chk Chk Chk being most common, not to be outdone by Bam Bam Bam or Yeow Yeow Yeow) has weathered having to define its unique pill of upper-groove rug-cutters and downer abstract experimentalism for more than 10 years. After the modest successes of three studio albums, including 2007's moody mash-up Myth Takes, the band has steadily zigzagged across the country, uniting its separated members into a more cohesive musical unit.
Having formed in the post-punk fog of Northern California in 1996, !!! has arguably been the impetus for the contemporary marriage of punk-rock sneering and dance-floor serenade, a sinewy shuffle of pulsing electronica and busy punk-funk riffage that has since been homogenized by up-and-coming roboto-youth. As a healthy barrage of second-wave dance-punk groups like Heloise and the Savoir Faire and the Faint courageously carry the torch to a broader range of connoisseurs, the potential seems endless for the mythos of !!! to stretch far beyond what the band might ever have intended.
Still, rather than resting on their laurels as iffy forebearers, !!! has continually upped the ante, charting courses further into the niche-denying waters of (gasp!) jamming through to new horizons of song craft. They seem to be a group bent on, well, bending the rules of the hipster handbook until nothing's left but a crooked skinny tie and a twisted cigarette.
With their West Coast teaser tour stopping in Portland this week, the city's fringe-punks and disco darlings alike can again join together as one in a forbidden dance. But don't be surprised if half the crowd resolves simply to stare at their shoes.