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Thursday, 7 November 2013

I (don't) want to be straight

I've said it before and I'll say it again ... too many gigs these days are ... er, too straight.

They're regular. Normal. Featuring bands (comprising perfectly nice people no doubt) who dress in regulation jeans and t-shirts, run through the usual "thanks to everyone else who's played" nonsense, and seem to want to drain the gig of any sense of the peculiar or extraordinary. These bands are often fairly good, but they could be a lot more exciting. Capito?

What I'm saying is that - one way and another - the better gigs are often from artists who endeavour to go out on a limb. Y'know, ones that push the boundaries, stretch things, go further. So for example, in the space of three days last week I saw Diaphram Failure doing their dada-meets-improv-rock thing, followed by My Therapist Says Hot Damn, with their played-for-laughs-but-still-ocasionally-thrilling riot-grrl rock stuff. Both very much what the doctor ordered if you ask me. DF worked because they created a deliberately deranged atmosphere where the vocalist's freeform ranting sat nicely above the band's rock-drone rhythms. In this context it made perfect sense for the topless, big-bellied-and-big-bearded singer to intone "What ya doing with my fucking shopping?" about 38 times in succession as another band member rifled through a bag of small objects (sweets?, little-whistle-type things?) which he proceeded to lob at people in the audience. Kerr-azy! I also liked the way the singer would vary the line - "What ya doing with my motherfucking shopping?" - every now and then. See! That's musicianship, that is.

Meanwhile, MTSHD's shtick was that the male bassist hammed up his OTT rock moves in a rather fetching black and red dress and white-face make-up. This sat alongside the band's smart lyrics and decent riffing. I particularly liked a very fast tune about vodka which featured a nice faux-grindcore guttural growl from an amusing female singer. Good stuff.

As I said to my gig companion at the latter bash, there are sadly too few bands featuring men wearing dresses on the scene at the moment. (Or are there in fact dozens and I just don't know about them? Er, send me a message. Full confidentiality guaranteed). Indeed, cross-dressing in all its forms (apart from laddish "drag" stuff) is to be encouraged in rock music in my opinion. I've mentioned before how I liked the fake moustache sported by a female member of Hunx & His Punx at a gig a few years back, and most efforts to do away with the hetero-normative damp floorcloth of much modern rock is ... a thoroughly good thing in my book.

Now please excuse me. The latest Monsoon catalogue has just dropped through the letterbox and I have to go and pick out a few new outfits. Ciao a tutti.


  1. Hi,

    Just to let you know that MTSHD's bassist is female.... and yes, our outfits were partially halloween inspired. ;)

    Soph (amusing vodka singer)

    1. Also wanted to point out that your review is very gendered when actually you don't know how any members of these bands identify - male, female, genderqueer, trans, etc etc - and it doesn't have any bearing on the music.

  2. Well Soph. It appears my semi-lighthearted - but very positive - comments on your band have backfired, with you at least. As I had hoped was clear, I was trying to make some general points about how it's good in live music when there's something different from the (stifling) norm. True, though, I don't know how you and the others identify, as they say, so I guess it kind of pulls the rug from under the feet of my (mini-) review. Mea culpa. N.