CAMBRIDGE -- ''You must all be single," said Electric Six frontman Dick Valentine at the band's sold-out show at the Middle East on Tuesday night.
''If you had one night of the year when you show someone how much you love them," he continued, ''you wouldn't be here. Listening to this [expletive]." Valentine's crack came halfway through what had been a high-powered, triumphant set of seemingly mindless fun.
Surely that left no doubt that Electric Six's disco-rock songs are as danceable and catchy as they are utterly meaningless.
But unlike the smart, metrosexual dance rock of say, Franz Ferdinand, this Detroit sextet's blend of Motown and garage rock comes with a huge dose of irony. Valentine boldly led his band through the disco bomp and classic rock stomp of ''Improper Dancing," the faux metalized punk of ''She's White," and the midtempo, new wave pastiche ''Synthesizer," all from the band's 2003 debut, ''Fire." Without overworking its trademark gauche stomping grooves, Electric Six masterfully expanded songs into fist-pumping crowd-pleasers, including newcomers such as ''Future Boys" and ''Bite Me" from its just-released second CD, ''Señor Smoke," and added heroic disco anthems of escapism like the ludicrously brilliant ''Gay Bar" and ''Danger! High Voltage."
Before the whole band returned to add a finale that included a synthy-disco version of Stevie Nicks's ''Stand Back" and its own ''Dance Commander," Valentine and synthesizer player Tait Nucleus performed a new song together, the more obvious social satire ''Jimmy Carter."
''This one goes out to Dick Cheney," Valentine said, ''the man who would be president if he weren't . . ." He paused for a moment. Breath was baited for the political pearl or witty wisdom that would surely follow. ''. . . Dick Cheney," he ended. Idiot savant, or plain idiot? That's the problem with irony, it's so subjective.