Apache Beat started off the night right with music Sam C. describes as “dark new wave.” This Brooklyn-bred band features guest spots from members of Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Lightspeed Champion and The Rapture on their debut album. Sunday’s show marked their last night on the tour, and both Men and Gossip were sad to see them go.
Speaking of MEN, what started out as a DJ/remix team of Le Tigre members Johana Fateman and JD Samson has turned into a full blown dance party. A self-described “band and art performance collective,” MEN consists of Samson, Michael O’Neill and Ginger Brooks Takahashi as the live band with Fateman and artist Emily Roysdon contributing as writers, consultants and producers. MEN are on a mission to unleash the radical potential of dance music, combining political lyrics on topics like war, civil liberties and gender politics with club ready beats.
For a band that played their first show ever this past April, they sure have their performance down pat—from the brightly colored stage wear to the cardboard cutouts held aloft by friends standing onstage. While not punk in sound, the band is definitely punk in attitude. “This song is about making gay babies” said JD before starting “Credit Card Babie$,” a song about reproductive options played against a backdrop of giant cardboard hands reading “Fuck Your Best” and “Fuck Your Friends” respectively. “Off Our Backs,” one of the band’s best songs, was recently remixed by Jeppe from Junior Senior. The audience seemed to really enjoy MEN as indicated by the sizeable crowd checking out their merch table after their set.
The lights then went down and it was time for Gossip. The band opened with “Dimestore Diamond,” the first track on their newest album and first Columbia Records studio release, Music For Men. By the third song, Singer Beth Ditto was down to a base garment and one sheer layer of what had once been a three layer dress. Her shoes were ditched shortly thereafter. While Ditto has become a fashion plate of sorts, palling around with Karl Lagerfeld and designing her own plus-sized clothing line for British retailer Evans, she is not one to let fashion impede her performance. If it is uncomfortable during a show or is distracting her from giving her all, it comes off.
Ditto told the crowd that she had been nervous about the success of this tour, since it was Gossip’s first US tour in three years. Although the band has reaches superstar status in the UK with 2006′s “Standing In The Way Of Control” reaching Number 1 on the UK charts, the band remains relatively unknown in the US. It seems that Ditto’s concerns were for naught, as The Paradise was filled with old and new fans of all ages, including a few familiar faces. At the begining of the show, a woman in the front caught Ditto’s eye and she immediately ran over to give the woman a kiss telling everyone “This is my friend Charlotte. I’ve known her since 2000 and she’s been at every Gossip show in Boston.”
Some immediate differences from past Gossip tours,included a synthesizer setup for guitarist Brace Paine in addition to his primary instrument and a touring bassist to fill out their live sound. And while Gossip may have cleaned up their sound since their low-fi beginings, Ditto’s voice is still as powerful as ever. Whether she’s singing one of her many well-crafted melodies or shouting at the top of her lungs, Beth Ditto is a force of nature.
Fans hoping to hear more of Gossip’s older material may have been a little disappointed with the show since the band’s set mostly focused on newer material. In addition to opener “Dimestore Diamond,” the band played Men standout tracks “Four Letter Word,” “Men In Love” and “Love Long Distance.” Their back catalog was represented by “(Don’t) Make Waves” and “Yesterday’s News” from 2000′s Movement and “Yr Mangled Heart” and “Listen Up” from their 2006 star-making record Standing In The Way Of Control, the latter featuring the first verse of Talking Head’s “Psychokiller” for an intro.
For their encore, Ditto—dressed in nothing but a foundation garment and bra with a towel wrapped around her head—invited all of the members of the opening bands as well as her touring hairdresser on stage for an audience participation sing along of the Tina Turner classic “What’s Love Got to do With It?” The band closed with a blistering version of their anti-Bush, pro-civil rights anthem “Standing In The Way Of Control” complete with a shoutout to Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” during the bridge that had the audience shouting along and pumping their fists in the air.
Gossip will be touring the US with MEN until October 26th, after which they will play a few gigs in their home state of Arkansas before heading over to Europe for the month of November. MEN will be touring with electro-clash queen Peaches until mid November. Apache Beat will be showcasing at this year’s CMJ Music Marathon. Check them out of you can!
For Gossip tour dates, click here.
For MEN tour dates, click here.
For Apache Beat tour dates, click here.