John “Gaoler” Sterry sings in Gang of Four (as Andy Gill plays behind him) at the 9:30 Club on Saturday, Oct. 8, 2016. (Photo by Theresa Sanchez)
#FBF – it’s internet slang for what some “kids” today refer to as “Flashback Friday” and is a way for people of all walks of life and interest to transport themselves back in time in an audio/visual manner.
#GoF is another acronym of sorts for a British punk band that was ahead of their time with regards to politic activism and social criticism in the late 1970s. You’d be hard-pressed to find many of rock music’s classic bands — R.E.M., the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Rage Against the Machine, and Nirvana to name a few — who haven’t called them an influence over the years. 2016 couldn’t be a more appropriate time then to tour given the contentious political climate and one of them most memorable elections underway in most recent history.
The latest version of the band visited the 9:30 Club on Oct. 8 to open for The Faint. (Read our Parklife DC review of The Faint that night — ed.) While the band has had many iterations since officially forming in 1977, they managed to retain guitarist Andy Gill is the sole original member.
Gang of Four (Photo courtesy Reybee Inc.)
Gang of Four founder and guitarist Andy Gill recruited a new vocalist a while back, and John “Gaoler” Sterry took up duties as the frontman of Gang of Four on the road.
A few years ago, Gang of Four released a new album with Gaoler on vocals, and now they have dropped a live album, Live… In The Moment, which appeared Sept. 9 via Metropolis Records.
Now Andy, Gaoler, bassist Thomas McNiece, and drummer Jonny Finnigan are on the road again, opening for Omaha synthpop band The Faint, and they all stop at the 9:30 Club on Saturday, Oct. 8.
Listen to “England’s in My Bones” by Gang of Four (feat. Alison Mossheart) from their Gaoler-fronted album What Happens Next on Soundcloud:
Gang of Four and The Faint kick off their tour tonight at the famous First Avenue, and that very strong bill will hit DC soon. Gaoler gives the act a different feel with slightly goth overtimes, but he does a great job with songs new and old. “Gaoler’s sweetly husky voice carries you through the song and it seems completely natural,” I said of his performance of “I Parade Myself” after the band last visited the 9:30 Club on March 2015.
Tickets are available online. Don’t sleep on this one, as this bill will sell out!
Gang of Four
Opening for The Faint
Saturday, Oct. 8
John Sterry, Andy Gill and Thomas McNeice of Gang of Four (Photo by Leo Cackett)
When Andy Gill, guitarist and cofounder of the seminal post-punk band Gang of Four, was very young, he wanted to be a drummer, he said in a chat with Annie Clark of St. Vincent recently for the Talkhouse podcast.
“I do think of things in grooves and rhythms and pulses, and I very much think in those terms. I don’t really think in terms of grandiose melodic constructions,” Gill said when discussing his approach to playing guitar.
In performance, Gill uses his guitar much like he uses his voice: He’s direct and sparing when communicating with it. At the 9:30 Club Tuesday night, Gill brought the latest incarnation of Gang of Four on tour to play the very new album What Happens Next, and in so doing demonstrated the power in his approach to songcraft.
First, it has to be said, this is a different incarnation of Gang of Four, in which Gill is the only original member remaining. Vocalist John “Gaoler” Sterry has taken over for Jon King — and as a result it’s a different show. But Gill gave the band’s songs a remarkable level of consistency, which the audience warmly embraced. The two-thirds full room approached the new lineup cautiously but applauded very enthusiastically by the end of the performance.