Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Polymorphous fun

My first trip to the Highline Ballroom (very nicely located next to a Western Beef emporium) yesterday evening was largely fun: excellent sightlines, excellent sound and two great party bands. It's hard to ask for more on a Monday night.

The albums of opener Gravy Train!!!! are as dispensable as the band's gigs are memorable. Basically dumbing down and amping up the early Peaches formula, the quartet launches a high-energy, potty-mouthed frontal attack on what makes up a show by a "normal" American rock band. Which means that during entire songs nobody on stage is playing any instrument (yay for backing tapes!) and the non-stop movement looks like the one juiced-up cheerleaders would stumble into. It's all sweaty, disheveled, frantic, horny. The highlight was when they invited a member of the audience to join them on stage during "Frat Party"—and what member! That huge bearded guy must have weighted 300 pounds and he wore only a skimpy red loincloth. He ended up making out with Gravy Trainer Hunx (the others are Chunx, Junx and Funx).

Junior Senior were like Yngwie Malmsteen by comparison, but their technical abilities didn't stand in the way of their good humor. They started off with their foot on the accelerator and left it there for the next hour. I'm not sure they needed two backup singers but hey, if it works for them…

What struck me most yesterday evening was the atmosphere of goofy, utopian polymorphousness: The crowd was mixed and happy and dancing, the bands embraced an all-accepting sexuality that felt not so much militant as matter of fact. It felt really far from the uptight masculinity of so many of the retro "punk-funk" bands. No wonder Junior Senior's most obvious influence is the B-52s, a band that created an alternative universe ruled by freaks and nerds, and that its new album features guest vocals from Kate Pierson and Cindy Wilson, along with all three Le Tigre members.

MP3 Gravy Train!!!! "Club Situation" (from All the Sweet Stuff, 2007)
MP3 Junior Senior "Dance, Chance, Romance" (from Hey Hey My My Yo Yo, 2007)

No comments: