The Go! Team, Paradise, October 25, 2007
PLAY BALL! The crowd at the Paradise enjoyed a team sport easily as entertaining at the one being
played at Fenway.
There’s one thing the Go! Team’s cheerleading frontwoman, Ninja, does not like to do: walk. The MC/drill sergeant/head rabble rouser of the Go! Team prefers to bounce, jump, do the running man, breakdance, hand-jive, vogue, and so on. That kind of hyperkinetic energy propelled the band’s breakbeat-heavy 80-minute show at the Paradise a week ago Thursday, and Ninja, dolled up in a Glinda-the-Good-Witch pink terrycloth sports dress, Rainbow Brite knee-highs, and shiny silver kicks, had the sold-out crowd eating out of her palm. If she said “Jump,” the crowd bounced in unison. If she told them to chant “Go! Team” or “do it,” they obliged as if the six-person ensemble were a mighty gospel choir exhorting us to sing for our own salvation. “Come on, it’s easy,” she coaxed with a coy sweetness that confounded, given her rowdy pep-rally-style rapping. The Go! Team were earning their exclamation point with their callisthenic choreography, even between songs, when they scrambled across stage, swapping mics for drums and guitars for harmonicas.
It’s tempting to call the mixed-race, gender-split Team “retro,” since they borrow from vintage hip-hop, blaxploitation soundtracks, Sesame Street melodies, and Motown grooves. But their approach is dizzyingly eclectic. They pulled from a bag of tricks that included recorder, banjo, melodica, harmonica, tambourines, and a Fisher-Price-esque megaphone that made siren sounds. Their set merged the raw boogie crowd pleasers from their debut album, Thunder, Lightning, Strike, with the even more diverse new Proof of Youth (both Memphis Industries). They took short breathers from the pep-rally dance party with “A Version of Myself,” a chance for drummer Chi Fukami Taylor to show off her songbird vocal chops, and the rambling banjo-anchored “Everyone’s a VIP to Someone.” In all, this team offered a worthy alternative to the World Series game down the street.
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