For too long, indie and punk bands made music that was impossible to dance to. Throughout most of the '90s and into the 2000s, the music made by hipsters for hipsters was something to be both played and observed with cool detachment, perhaps a slight head-nod along with the beat if something was really infectious. Over the past couple of years, however, the influence of the early '80s has come back. Dance punk has taken over the indie underground -- and has even made a little bit of headway overground.
The best of the pack is probably the least-often mentioned -- Washington, D.C.'s Q and Not U. The band doesn't have the popular Gang of Four influence of Radio 4, or the Cure-like ambience of the Rapture. It doesn't have the overtly retro synth-heavy sound of the Faint. What it does have is the best beat -- a stuttering, hi-hat-riding, mutant disco thrash that causes the shoulders to spaz and the hips to shake. Last year, Q and Not U's show at Wash. U.'s Gargoyle proved the hipsters were done standing still, as skinny kids in thrift-store Ts spun and breakdanced like old school b-boys to the D.C. boys' fractured rhythmic excess.
Q and Not U is signed to Ian MacKaye's Dischord records and as such has a D.I.Y. political bent that is too often absent from bands with ass-shaking possibilities. Q and Not U knows that the quickest way to build a collective is through the power of dance. Shout, shake and revolt.