No Bra and PantherEdit this event
There’s one thing that has to be said about *The Gossip *when you stare out at the audience for tonight’s first of two packed gigs at the Forum: for a band who started out playing the US indie punk circuit and have steadily released albums for a few years now on a quality indie, they’ve certainly plunged deeper into the mainstream than other bands of their type. It’s a success that’s evident by the sea of indie boys and girls rubbing shoulders with a gay crowd and young professionals simply looking for a few drinks and the chance to hear_ that _song.
Though any fear that tonight’s events may be aimed towards keeping the Sunday supplement section happy is quickly laid to rest with the arrival of opener Susanne Oberbeck’s one woman, electro filth-fest,* No Bra*. Shuffling out in knickers, a t-shirt and what looks like a very real moustache, she sets down her mac, plugs it in, takes off her top to reveal her exposed breasts, and starts singing pornographic lyrics against a backdrop of simplistic beats like a comatose, out of tune Marlene Dietrich. Ignored by some, derided by others and rightfully loved by a few select individuals, it’s all quite uncomfortable and she doesn’t appear to give a damn if anyone in the audience likes what they see on stage or not. Which means it’s all quite punk in the truest sense of the word.
Even though they live in the same city as the headliners and are on tour with them as well, nothing seems to be helping Panther tonight - not even frontman Charles Humara’s herky-jerky Jackson-derived dance moves. The duo’s deconstructed rhythms and wailing vocals warrant at least a chin stroke or two on record, but facing a mass hungry for the star attraction, they fail to fill up the space in a manner that proves palatable to an increasingly starved horde.
Leave it to Beth Ditto to give the audience exactly what they want when she steps out in a shimmering body suit that looks like it was procured from the children’s section of Ziggy Stardust outfitters. Warming up the audience with “a new song and I can’t remember all the words”, Ditto throws herself around the stage like a minute Iggy Pop. With comments like “This is a queer song” spicing up an appearance that’s hard to tear your eyes off of, she proves that her impressive vocal chords actually sound better live than on record and exposes the rather obvious fact that when you strip them of their punk-rock wardrobe and riot girrrl influences, The Gossip are at heart a straight-up, roaring R&B/soul group indebted to a long tradition of musicians who have also made their way out of the southern parts of the United States over the long years.
And in keeping with a musical tradition that goes far farther back then 1977, the band work themselves, the crowd, and what feels like the entire venue into a heavy, heavy sweat. Everyone bounces along to every crashing high-hat and throbbing bass line, only allowing themselves a moment of respite during the quieter moments, and before anyone can get a complete breathe in, it all kicks off again. And when that song finally does kick in at the end of the main set…
…Well, no matter how exhausted you may be of the heavy airplay and magazine covers or talk of Ditto’s more-than-size-zero figure and Germaine Greer’s opinion, hearing_ that _now well-worn anthem being belted at you in the flesh injects it with a new-found electricity that’s next to impossible to deny.
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