Scenes From Last Night's Gang of Four and Black Dotz Show at Trees.
There was a tough question to answer and an easy joke to make heading into last night's Trees show from '80s post-punk icons Gang of Four.
The question: At what point is a band no longer a band? Then, that question, coupled with the fact that this version of Gang of Four — which just released a new album called What Happens Next this year — now only features guitarist Andy Gill from its original lineup, led to the joke: Really, this was a “Gang of One” show, right?
Funny stuff, no doubt. But fair?
Not really, no.
Sure, it was weird to see Gill surrounded on stage by people who were probably young enough to be his grandchildren. And, Gill aside, these new players all looked too young and way too pretty to fall in line with my own associations of Entertainment!-era Gang of Four. But these guys could play — well enough where, at times, it really did sound like Gang of Four up there. The attentive weeknight crowd was well enough into it, anyway, wiggling and jerking around to the irresistible grooves that made this band such a draw back in those early days.
Musically, this show was solid from start to finish. Opening local soul-punk act The Black Dotz — Wanz Dover's unique vision — set the tone of this night well with a two-drummer live set-up that was damn near irresistible in this setting.
In the end, it seems a band's kind of always a band. Gang of Four, even without the other guys, is still a legit-enough Gang Of Four — one good enough, at least, to represent a band whose catalog is almost four decades old in some places.