It may indeed be the case that as a bona fide genre, dance-punk has never been anything more than the product of a subculture media hellbent on fabricating its own buzz or simply an example of the post-millennium tail-wagging-the-dog phenomenon at work in the arts. After all, detractions like these have asterisked nearly every claim for legitimacy made by proponents of the genre, with most listeners dismissing it as duplicitous Dance music sporting some insincere rough edges.
Imaginary or not though, the waves of easy-access recording technology brought on by the early 2000s yielded even larger waves of electronic and dance musicians who were less interested in any particular categorization or scene ethos than they were in simply finding out how fun it all could be; and every once in a while, audiences are lucky enough to see a band both able to articulate the thrill of live electronic dance music and retain whatever trace amounts of genuine punk ever existed in the amalgam.
If Baton Rouge band Prom Date proved anything on the humble stage of Cafe Prytania tonight, it’s that they should be added to the growing list of bands who have technically and creatively surpassed their own forerunners. With the likes of gritty dance-punk pseudo-progenitors !!! and the Rapture having spent the last five years awkwardly forcing attempts at beat-centric music but being constantly outshined by artists only a couple of years their junior, high-energy live bands such as Prom Date have become the torchbearers of a musical style that no longer constrains itself to a superficial balance between distorted noise and mechanical rhythm.
Though Prom Date has – on record – their own indie and art rock leanings, jumping from vulnerable piano-driven pop songs and electric guitar-centric rockers to Ween-esque bossa nova numbers on their Clock Out EP, in a live setting this young five-piece was all sweaty, don’t-stop-’till-you-drop electroclash. And unlike the stable of “electro-pop” bands that throw a few waves of glam-ed out synth into an otherwise straightforward narrative, Prom Date was making pull-no-punches dance music. It was dance music so purely composed of raw energy, performed with such unflinching panache and offered up at such a breakneck pace that it was literally impossible not to feel a little like you were at a punk show.