The Asteroids Galaxy Tour are a Danish band who carry on the grand uber-pop tradition laid down by ABBA and propagated by acts like the Spice Girls and Aqua—sinfully catchy pop with a capital P (I guess the O and the second P should be capitalized, too; and you might as well put an exclamation point at the end while you’re at it).
It’s a polyglot of every type of popular music that’s reared its head over the last fifty years, only thrown into an international blender and mixed on high frappe. It plunders gleefully from big-selling acts like Madonna and Lady Gaga, without one iota of their glacial cynicism. It pilfers the most forward-thinking electronic/dance music, minus the detached indie-hipster irony. It’s the sound of smiling, fresh-faced international musicians who more often than not look like cartoon characters, carving a path of world conquest—in 4/4 time, with easy-to-remember lyrics and hooks so sweet they could induce a diabetic coma.
That’s The Asteroids Galaxy Tour (AGT) in a (candy-coated) nutshell, and damned if they weren’t terrific as they transformed a packed house of Neumos patrons into sweaty, gyrating, goofily-grinning converts Saturday night. Producer/principal songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Lars Iversen mostly hung back, playing bass and keyboards while his (very tight) backup band gave the cotton-candy takes on disco, funk, psychedelia, reggae, and techno a surprising amount of instrumental oomph.
Lead singer/co-songwriter Mette Lindberg, in the meantime, brought home the show(wo)manship. If Lindberg weren’t a flesh-and-blood human being, you’d swear some enterprising manga artist drew her. Sure, she’s as gorgeous as any pop star out there right now (think Heidi Klum’s and Gwyneth Paltrow’s elfin younger sister dressed in sequins and auditioning for a remake of Barbarella), but more importantly she possesses a wonderful combination of adorable gawkiness and cartoon swagger that every great uber-pop front-person needs. And her odd voice—a girlish alien chirp that sounds like Bjork gone Mickey Mouse Disco—makes for great rainbow sprinkles atop an insanely tasty pop music sundae.
The object of every great uber-pop band worth its spoonful of sugar is to create hit singles so grabby and universal that they can literally be sung by any human being on the planet—regardless of age, race, creed, color, or sexual persuasion. The AGT has been drawing aces on this count for nearly four years. You’ve heard “Around the Bend” in an iPod Touch commercial and “The Golden Age” has been effectively used by Heineken to pimp their grog. “Heart Attack,” The Asteroids’ newest single, got an ass-shaking workout Saturday night and its addictive circus-calliope keyboards and maddeningly memorable chorus seem destined to provide more weaponry in The Asteroids Galaxy Tour’s bid for global domination.
Oh, and there were two really strong opening bands to boot, so anyone who showed up early enough to hear both received rich rewards. Middle-slotters Vacationer played tight-yet-airy tropicalia-influenced pop—sort of like Wavves and Hall and Oates jamming with The Beach Boys. But local boys Hotels grabbed the thankless first slot of the evening and ran (or more appropriately, pogo’ed) with it. Their variety of new-wave-tinged rock was played with snap and finesse, it pulsed with restless energy, and lead singer Blake Madden’s baritone voice added gravity to the musical bounce. A lot of folks are aping Margaret-Thatcher-era pop groups lately, but Hotels have a lot of those pretenders beat on one key front—they’ve got memorable melodies to bolster their instrumental snap. They play an EP release party at the Columbia City Theater on April 27; you’ve got every right to hate yourself if you miss it.