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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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Formerly "Parisnormale: Paris Rocks"