Maybe the boys noticed it, maybe not. It can be hard to discern the faces of your audience when you’re standing in the spotlight. Then there’s the whole matter of having to put on a show for them. But suffice to say, it’s a good thing Reptar’s Saturday night revue at the Metro, opening for Grouplove, was all ages. It was one of those tell-tale concerts where the kids, painted and huddled on the ballroom floor, let loose with “favorite band” syndrome. And you could hear them roar each time Grouplove sang a reference to marijuana while their parents sat at the bar, nodding their head because they stole their kid’s iPod for spinning class.
Given the matchup and the crowd, Reptar put on a beguiling solar surfer of a show, with no less energy than a supernova. This is a band that has been hounded by the notorious label of “great live act, underwhelming album.” What’s more, despite big-ups from the likes of NPR and NME, they were tasked with opening. It was never an easy task for the Athenians (Georgia), but they took it on like lions.
Tantric whipping of guitars, shaker shaking and robot dancing accentuated the band’s bizarre offerings, mostly from their latest Body Faucet. King of quirk was the lead guitarist, who took to shaking his rump, pointing his fingers disco style and jolting the flower suspended from the fretboard of his white flying-V. Drummer Andrew MacFarland held time furiously, even through Afro-Carribean polyrhythms like “Please Don’t Kill Me,” and it’s likely that William Kennedy played his keyboards more with his hair than with his fingers. At one point the crowd broke spontaneously into tyrannosaurus dance, waving limp wrists from left to right in tandem.
Flickering afro-guitars pared down bubbling grooves, while big hits and chant-alongs led the way into the breach under the steady-hand of singer Graham Ulicny.
“This is a song about a dream I had about going into space,” he said of “Thank You Gliese 370b,” after about a minute of ambient star hums. His inimitable voice is layered and hoarse, snarling and limitlessly dynamic—able to skip multiple octaves with the grease of a rockabilly singer. It was music as sonic as it is palpably physical. No matter how bad a day you had, not matter how jaded you came in—the sheer energy in the room grabbed you by the guts and didn’t drop you till the roadies appeared. Their lovably nonsensical lyricism (“Rabbits eat and rabbits scre/Hair grows long all over you”), breezy vibes and inspired passion breathed through a painfully short set. It seemed like an act that could not be trumped—and, arguably, it wasn’t.
The band finaled on a riveting vision of “Sweet Sipping Soda,” flailing and shouting—Ulicny even kicking off his shoes for the fadeout freakout.