Nice as Fuck -or NAF for FCC purposes-are just as fun to listen to as their name is to say. Comprised of solo artist and former Rilo Kiley front woman Jenny Lewis , The Like’s Tennessee Thomas, and Au Revoir Simone’s Erika Forster , the indie rock super trio made their entrance to the musical world at a Bernie Sanders benefit in April, followed by an opening spot on M. Ward’s Spring 2016 tour. Their self-titled debut of exquisitely simple tracks dropped soon after, in a surprise release on June 24.
Now they are spreading their message of love across the country on their own headlining tour. Last night’s tour stop brought them to Brooklyn’s Rough Trade, and just like in the video for their first single “Door,” NAF gave one group of New Yorkers an immaculately communal dance party.
The intimate vibe of the show was set upon entry to the venue, as fans gathered around the band’s gear, illuminated by a giant electrical peace sign and placed directly in the middle of the floor. NAF chooses to forego the stage at their shows, and on this particular date, used that elevated space so fans without a front-in-center spot could enjoy optimal viewing.
After opening act Chances with Wolves got most of the crowd grooving to a soulful mix of artists like Big Mama Thornton, the NAF members sauntered into the middle of the crowd, and delivered a short but oh-so-sweet set, as they played their less-than-30-minute record from start to finish.
The live tracks closely reflected the recorded version of the rhythm driven bass-drums-synth album, with the exception of a few sonic embellishments. Forster’s bass line on “Door” thumped just a little harder, Lewis’ famously impressive vocal range was emphasized, and “Guns,” a timely anti-violence anthem, rang as just a little more poignant. But just like on record, NAF’s theme of love in all contexts, from personal relationships to a tool of political revolution, resonated loud and clear.
The band only spoke to the crowd once between songs, as Thomas explained the meaning behind “Cookie Lips,” a song about only receiving romantic “crumbs of affection.” But the crowd was directly acknowledged in plenty of other ways, as Lewis made intense eye contact with nearly everyone in the audience’s innermost circle, and even compelled many crowd members to be her dance partner. Most rose to the occasion and shimmied their hips right back at her, while one gentleman froze like an adorably star struck deer-in-the-headlights.
Lewis’ moves proved to be the most memorable part of an overall remarkable show, as she spent almost the entire set jumping around with her fist in the air, taking an occasional break to writhe around on the floor or grind against a fan. Between her, Thomas, and Forster, NAF looks like they are having an absolute blast on their current musical expedition, and that energy certainly spills over to their audience.
After closing with the catchy as hell “NAF Theme” (“We’re nice as fuck/Wish you good luck”), band and fans bid each other adieu with peace signs and beaming elated expressions. For fans like me, who weren’t lucky enough to score tickets to tonight’s Bowery Ballroom gig, I imagine we all left thinking the same thing-“When the fuck do I get to see them again?!”