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Sunday, May 20, 2007

Seeing is Believing: 54 Nude Honeys/Rodeo Massacre at La Maroquinerie, Paris

May 19, 2007

I have a bet, bookies. I’m sure this article, this little ditty about a concert in the city of burned out lights, will get me more hits than anything I’ve ever written anywhere before. You know why. And sorry fellas. You came to the wrong place.

I have a second bet for the music lovers who made it past the title. If a garage rock band, especially one singing in a non-English tongue (kudos to those resisting the imperial forces, in league with Chewy, Han, and Luke), has the savoir-faire to brand themselves as racy and then puts on a spectacular visual show, it doesn’t really matter if anyone knows the lyrics—or any song differentiation at all, for that matter. In case you’re wondering, that’s a compliment. And in case you’re wondering, I’m talkin’ ‘bout 54 Nude Honeys, the Japanese "dirty rock-ers" (garage-punk) who (dis-)graced the stage of La Maroquinerie in Paris last night.

It wouldn’t be fair to continue with the Nude Honeys without saying something about the impressive opening act, Rodeo Massacre. As you know, sometimes the opening act is utterly missable. One often finds only about one-quarter of the main act audience even deigning to pull their little ostrich heads out of the sand for it. It’s significant that Rodeo Massacre played to a full house. This is a band to watch. The charismatic lead singer Isabel Lindqwister is a gospel choir bird and a jazz dive diva from Stockholm. The band is a Stockholm-Paris musical commute. It’s not really garage. It’s not blues. It’s a great postmodern pastiche that is clearly influenced by the mods. Lindqwister, a Swede in Paris, has a bluesy soulful voice that recalls Kelly Hogan and The Detroit Cobras n in contemporary indie settings. Like the main act that followed her, Linqwister’s stage presence competes with her extraordinary vocals. Her straight blonde bangs into the eyes and mane descending to the derriere give her an unforgettable magnetism as she grooves around the stage as if at mod revival party. Rodeo Massacre was a fantastic prelude to the spectacular 54 Nude Honeys.

The Nude Honeys (named from the deck of playing cards popular with American forces in WW II) bring me back to my original hypothesis about garage and spectacle. I don’t’ speak Japanese. No matter. Lead singer Yuri could’ve been screeching, “Give me your money, idiot!” and I would’ve never known the difference. The Nude Honeys gave the mostly male audience exactly what they wanted: high energy, surf-tinged garage-punk and dominatrix theatrics.

Darkness is to Honeys as Kryptonite is to Superman. You have to see them to love them. Judging from the roaring crowd, some of it exploding in to an impressively post-teenage mosh pit, the Honeys belong to an audio-visual genre that bends the borders of rock, theater, the gentleman’s club, and the musical. They also follow in the tradition of theatrical dirty rockers like The Plasmatics, G.G. Allin, The Stooges, and The Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black. Their all latex attire is poached from the legendary punk fashionistas on King’s Road circa ’76. chanteuse Yuri’s bikini provocatively shoots up the mercury as she shakes her fists violently at the ceiling, pouncing about, and screaming in a voice and antics that recall a deluded yappy schnauzer picking fights with Doberman Pinschers. Her range is not impressive, but war cries and transitory ululating is real brand differentiation.

Just as Rodeo Massacre is about Linqwister, so the Honeys are about front(al)-lady Yuri. The bassist and guitarist, did little to draw attention beyond their admittedly sultry attire. A smile here and there. A tough SnM presence handling the prominently long-necked guitars—but with more stationary and muted gestures by comparison to their singer. The drummer, the lone guy in the group about whom the male audience no doubt fantasizes for his intimate surroundings on this “Sexy Pistols Tour,” is the second most prominent figure. Relegated like all drummers to the dustbin of the stage, he nevertheless refuses that anonymity with wild movements and a sopping wet chest. Picture Animal from the Muppets, but wet, Japanese, shirtless, and in latex pants.

It’s true that the sound does matter. No one moshes to Simon and Garfunkel or Air. But this is definitely a band... to watch.--JH

p.s. For you ladies, I'm thinking of starting a band: 54 Nude Dudes...

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Thursday, May 17, 2007

Joe Strummer: The Future is Unwritten

Opened last week in the UK. Coming soon elsewhere.
"I'd like to say that people... people can change anything they want to;
and that means everything in the world. Show me any country and
there'll be people in it. And it's the people that make the country.
People have got to stop pretending they're not on the world.
People are running about following their own tracks. I am one of them.
But we've all gotta stop... just stop following our own little mouse trails.
People can do anything; this is something that I'm beginning to learn.
People are out there doing bad things to each other; it's because
they've been dehumanized. It's time to take humanity back into
the center of the ring and follow that for a time.
Greed... it ain't going anywhere; the richest person
in the world is the most unhappy one. They should have that
on a big billboard in Times Square. Think on that. Without people you're nothing."

-Joe Strummer
Okay, so he sounds a little bit cheesy-utopian at times in this quote. Yet, his explanation of oppression and violence coming from dehumanized people strikes home with me. So does his call to pull our heads out and get involved in change. Often, politics and music suck together. Joe Strummer and the Clash proved that it can be done with class (no pun).
p.s. If you click on the poster and go to the official site for the movie/or myspace, you'll hear his eerie voice uttering the quote above. If you ever liked the Clash, it will give you goose bumps.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The rest of May and a couple of things

Greetings P-normaliens.
First, most of you missed a nice show tonight at Nouveau Casino featuring Malcolm Middleton of Arab Strap. Anybody out there who did make it?

Lemme remind you of the copious offerings for the fin du mois. Some hot picks:
  • Nouveau Casino, May 18
    If you consider yourself a fan of indie electro-pop and the legacy of Kraftwerk, Neu--Krautrock--better not miss this gig. Cluster was every bit as important as Kraftwerk to that movement.
  • La Fleche, May 18ALEXANDRE VARLET (Fr)
    Your handrails:Traces of Nick Drake acoustic; Bauhaus's Peter Murphy for vocals; early Yo La Tengo; clapping hands; "uh-huh"'s and "all right"s--all in one nicely packaged song with a ribbon and a bow for you. Very promising indie frog folk pop.
  • La Maroquinerie, May 19
    54 Nude Honeys (JP): Soft Porn meets Garage punk with these Japanese Divas who strap on more than guitars. Umm, excuse me PN's: what's not to love here?
    Rodeo Massacre (FR/SWD): The fine line between garage and pop--Hives meets Housemartins.
  • Bataclan, May 24, SlintFounded in Louisville, KY in 1987 and disbanding in 1991, Slint are considered by many as the founding fathers of post-rock.
  • La Fleche May 24
    Architecture in Helsinki :
    These eight Aussies may have created the best electric blender on the market these days. Whipping up electro-post-rock-reggae-house and the kitchen sink blends, AIH have distinguished themselves as serious chefs of an indie fusion cuisine.
  • Le Bataclan, May 25, Of Montreal and Syd Matters
    Of Montreal has mainly been the baby of talented Athens, GA native Kevin Barnes. Critics are mostly agreed that OM has been mostly fantastic. "Through the emotional turmoil, Barnes concocted what was to be his darkest, most personal and most ambitious album Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer? in 2007."
    tickets? click here

    Le Bataclan May 26
    Following two days on the heels of legendary post-rock gang Slint whose first album he produced, Steve Albini, rides into Paris on a donkey to fans waving palm leaves, with his band Shellac in tow.This spring tour is said to be a prelude to their first album released since 2000’s 1000 hurts on Touch and Go, called Excellent Italian Greyhound. Who is Steve Albini? Please go away.

    Le Point Ephemere, May 29
    Band of Horses
    I've always said they sounded like My Morning Jacket. But who cares! They're great anyway. Neil Young vocals meets Grandaddy and My Morning Jacket.

  • Le Bataclan, May 29
    Wilco: This latest album Sky Blue Sky (nonesuch records 2007) is garnering critical applause for its nostalgic return to 70s rocknroll simplicity.
    La Maroquinerie, May 30
    BUILT TO SPILL: indie rock elites. They are in the 90s pantheon. Duh
Of course you can get the fatter versions of these skinnies above right here.

Lemme also remind you that there are several lesser known venues that feature even lesser known indie acts, some of which are international (especially from the rest of Europe but occasionally some American, Canadian, and Japanese artists busking their way through the froggie capital).
  • Guingette Pirate: For ska, garage, chanson francaise, and gypsy stuff, check out the Guingette Pirate docked down at Quai de Bercy just across from the spectacular Bibliotheque Nationale Francois Mitterand.
  • Batofar: Just a portal away from Guingette is its sister ship the Batofar. Similar programming. Check out May 17, for example. Garage rock featuring Austin, Tx-based Born To Lose and Swedish rockers The Bombdolls.
  • La Feline: like its older counterpart Le Cantada, La Feline brings you garage rock from across the waters in a small Menilmontant venue, with cheap beer, and a crowd of hardcore devotees to this genre (pompadours and all) that you probably thought were chained up in the catacombs by Sarkozy's police.
  • Le Cantada: Been around for awhile in Menilmontant, featuring some excellent dj nights, mainly garagey, punky and some metal (could be worth the laughs) and occasional live acts.
  • Le Triptyque, At Metro Grands Boulevards. Le Trip often has cutting edge indie rock , ska, garage, and hip hop, some of it international.
  • L'Olympic Cafe, 18e, Metro Marcadet or Jules Joffrin: cutting edge funk, jazz, pop, experimental
  • Le Zorba right at Belleville metro (click on link for address): I'm yet to find their calendar posted anywhere. It's that cool. Just go there on an exploratory outing and see what you find. A lot of dj-nights though, so if you're not up for anything goes, don't goes.
  • La Bellevilloise right next door to La Maroquinerie, off rue de Menilmontant, on Rue de Boyer: Lots of weird stuff and more tame items as well, from chanson francaise to Japanese cyberpunk and manga. Very affordable food (an assiette de charctuerie/fromage at 8 euro fed two) and fairly cheap pints (5.50 euros).
So have any of you checked these joints? What do you think. Add to our knowledge bank in the comments section below. Don't be shy.
Enoy! Peace, out--JH
Formerly "Parisnormale: Paris Rocks"