Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Vertical Rhythm

The Gossip is a disco-punk/soul trio from Portland. They came though Utah twice when I lived there, but once I was deployed, and the second time...um, I don't remember what happened the second time, but I was pretty bummed I missed them. Their first three albums had a raw, under-produced feel that fit nicely with Beth Ditto's soul-sister voice. Their newest, "Music For Men," was produced by Rick Rubin. Purists think it's too slick, but I don't care. The band's passion still shows through, and I've been rocking out to it since June. They're barely heard-of in the States, but in Europe, they're superstars. I bought a ticket to last night's concert in Milan back in August, but they were selling so well, they had to move the show to a bigger venue.
The opener was an electro-clash outfit from Kansas City called Ssion (pronounced "shun"). I wasn't really sure what to expect, but lead singer/song-writer Cody Critcheloe clearly had his tongue in his cheek when he wrote songs about Christian hypocrisy and hipster cred. The great things is that it was all so danceable.

The Gossip
Originally uploaded by currtdawg
After intermission, the lights went down, and the sold-out venue went crazy. First, Hannah Billie began pounding the skins. She was followed by Brace Paine laying down the guitar licks. Then, gently but with authority, Beth Ditto emerged sporting a crimson red Dorothy Hamill hairdo and belting out the first lines of "Dimestore Diamond." It's the only mid-tempo song on the record, and it's a good thing they sang it first, because their second song was equal-rights anthem "Pop Goes The World," and once all those Italians started jumping, there was no stopping them.
Beth had complete control of us, and didn't slow down for the entire two-hour set. She moved across the stage with grace and conviction, working the crowd until we were as covered in sweat as she was. She owned that stage. And there's nothing like looking around to see thousands of Italians jumping in sync to "Yr Mangled Heart." It was strange to hear her talk because when she spoke, she sounded like a little girl; but when she sang, she totally wailed.
For an encore, Beth sang a simple, quiet, and intense a cappella version of Tina Turner's "What's Love Got To Do With It." Then she was joined by her band-mates to end the night with "Standing In The Way Of Control" where she leapt out into the crowd and joined us in our dancing fury. This is why The Gossip has a reputation as such an amazing live act. I'm about tempted to become a groupie.
You can never capture the energy of a live show on camera, but you should still probably check this out:

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