Onstage, Nic Offer is an undeniable force of boundless kinetic energy. The frontman for the New York-via-Sacramento group !!! — pronounced “chk chk chk” — Offer is a pliable, jointless wonder. His limbs dart in every direction as part of a never-ceasing dance display.
A key element of that endlessly engaging effort is Offer’s trademark short shorts, tiny trousers that rest a healthy 12 inches above his kneecaps. There is nothing quite like the sight of Offer gyrating feverishly in hot pants, and his fans can thank — or blame — a local San Francisco establishment for that fixture of his wardrobe.
“I wore them as kind of a joke for the first time at the Rickshaw Stop,” says Offer, whose band will play two shows at the Chapel this weekend, including a New Year’s Eve performance on Sunday night. “And about 10 minutes into the show, a couple of girls screamed that they liked my shorts, so I thought that was cool. And then after the gig ended, we found out that someone had broken into our car and had stolen our passports and gear and everything. That included all my pants for the tour, so I was just like, ‘I guess I’m wearing these things from now on.’”
Offer’s tropical outfit is only part of the reason why loyal fans continue to flock to !!! shows. Originally gaining notice as part of the punk-funk craze that included New York contemporaries The Rapture and LCD Soundsystem, !!! has been an enduring force for the past 20 years, continuing to thrive despite the popular wave cresting on the indie-dance movement.
And while !!! may not garner the same notice now as they did during their heyday, the group’s brand of dance populism is a crucial therapeutic exercise for music fans during these dark times. Its latest album, Shake the Shudder, is a testament to the power of defiant dance music — that if your legs keep moving, you can’t get dragged down.
The infectious single from Shake the Shudder, “Dancing is the Best Revenge,” could double as the theme song for 2017, if everyone were taking Ecstasy instead of watching CNN. “NRGQ” showcases the band’s penchant for lifting from sources as diverse as Chic to CAN, and songs like “Five Companies,” “Throttle Service,” and “The One 2” are just ebullient dance music creations.
!!! may specialize in a genre not known for its profundity, but it would be a huge disservice to dismiss the group’s output as mindless music for people looking to drop drugs and tune out. Offer’s lyrics can be strikingly moving, with his songs touching upon elements of regret and self-reflection.
“Our shows are about a connection with people, and that is important,” Offer says. “There is something powerful about dance music, and being together on a floor and experiencing a live show.”
That collective experience will certainly be amplified for the two !!! shows at the Chapel this weekend. Offer says he always tries to schedule a show for New Year’s Eve, and this will be the group’s first time performing in San Francisco on such an occasion. As a group with Sacramento roots, the band has a close kinship with San Francisco — although don’t call them a city band, as they still have Central Valley pride — and Offer calls the Chapel one of his favorite places to play in America.
“We are incredibly excited for this show,” says Offer. “I think everyone is looking forward to putting this year behind us. We are looking forward to starting the next year on a positive note, together with all the people we love.”
It will be one hell of a party — a place where everyone can brush off the cold of 2017 with their favorite pair of tiny shorts.
!!! plays Saturday, Dec. 30, (with Once and Future Band, $25-$28) and Sunday, Dec. 31, (with Extra Classic, $45-$55) at the Chapel, 777 Valencia St., thechapelsf.com.