It’s been nearly 20 years since Dick Valentine formed the band that would become Electric Six in Detroit. At the tender age of 42 he is still holding audiences captive with his rollicking, disco-infused rock. While the band hasn’t achieved mainstream success in the United States they have a large following in Europe, thanks in part to two UK top ten hits from 2003’s album Fire (“Danger! High Voltage!” and “Gay Bar”) as well as non-stop touring and exciting live shows.
Electric Six have recorded eight more albums with a ninth promised in 2014. For the most part, Valentine has continued with the same tongue-in-cheek raucous tone, but on occasion a more mature sound sneaks through, like on last year’s Mustang. Sandwiched between “Jessica Dresses Like a Dragon” and “Adam Levine,” (yes, that Adam Levine of Maroon 5) is “Show Me What Your Lights Mean,” a straight-up, post-punk rocker from outer space. What never ceases to amaze is Valentine’s ability to write such solid, hook-driven songs with throwaway lyrics, like “The New Shampoo,” a pulsing disco number full of homoeroticism. It almost seems wasteful that such perfect pop compositions be saddled with such titles as “Nuclear War (On the Dancefloor),” but that musical sincerity combined with lyrical irreverence is part of the band’s appeal.
Their exciting live shows — around 200 a year — have given Electric Six cult status in the United States, and fans of the band return over and over to see the hour-plus dance parties, driven by drummer Percussion World and navigated by Valentine’s clever between-song banter. A year ago the band successfully completed a Kickstarter campaign to raise money for a live show DVD, Absolute Treasure, filmed in their hometown of Detroit. They raised more than double the $25,000 they asked for, finishing with almost $63,000. Their Kickstarter success can be attributed largely to their rabid fanbase; “Crazies” as the band calls them.
Touring with Electric Six is Yip Deceiver, an electronic R&B duo and the self-proclaimed “antidote to the laptop jockeys and deejay types these days who simply sway behind a MacBook.” The band was borne from Davey’s and Dobby’s mutual love of 80s and 90s R&B, as well as both belonging to of Montreal, the Athens, Georgia indie-pop-rock powerhouse.
Also supporting Electric Six is AndyD. His musical influences range from Prince to Andrew W.K. to Electric Six themselves — head over to his Bandcamp page to listen to the unique result full of magic, sex, wizards, and unicorns.
High Noon Saloon will play host to the biggest dance party in Madison on Friday, March 21 (tickets here). The fun gets started at 9:30 pm, but come prepared to go all night long.