w/ Spider Fighter, Panther
The Triple Rock, Mpls, 4/1/06
As a study in contrasts, this show didn't just take the cake, it stole it from a maximum security cake protection facility in San Quentin after months of devious planning. The lineup was so staggered in terms of quality, genre and intent that the crowd started to look mildly disoriented after a while, as if the walls were changing color and getting alternately closer and farther apart from each other. Because the moment Spider Fighter started setting up, things were beautiful--like, time-warp-to-Olympia-circa-1991 beautiful. Four women up front (including Arzu from the Selby Tigers), three on guitars, one on keyboard, shiny and nails-tough in dresses, boots and "Fuck with me, yr spleen is jelly" scowls of macho-rock feminist reclamation. Axes gunning for seismic, crossing into transcendent, nudged by Teenage Whore Courtney screams, elated WUH-OHs and demi-hardcore, slam-danceable, epiphanic sonic glory. It's Bratmobile, it's the Third Sex, it's early Sleater-K, it's why punk will save yr lost girl life and everything good and true and holy in this world. It's also beyond facile comparisons and breathless fanzine gushes--LISTEN FOR YRSELF. NOW. SALVATION IS HERE AND ITS NAME IS SPIDER FIGHTER.
And so it was on the crest of this wow-that-was-like-seeing-Heavens-to-Betsy-at-IPU! euphoria that the girl riot was cruelly shuffled away and replaced with...Panther. Ah, Panther. How do I explain the donkey dung that was his set? First, let me say that, as a rule, I think artists deserve the benefit of the doubt. Most critical pans are lazy, self-satisfied and snark-driven and don't help anybody, especially the artist, who has gone through the labor and general scariness of public performance in order to share her art with other people. However, sometimes the artist in question is so far gone, so egregiously, fist-eatingly off it and painful to watch that it becomes necessary to speak up in order to prevent the suffering of others. Panther, in addition to inspiring some of the deadliest audience glares this side of James Frey on Oprah, is the Anti-Spider Fighter--not good, not girls, not a band. He is one white dude, alone on an empty stage, recycling three or four dubious "dance" sequences and some krump moves he jacked from Rize over rancid cat food un-beats upchucked from his iPod to the PA. Sad highlights: pacing, wheezing, crouching, orgasm-faking, the caveat, "I know, this is awkward." And how, darling.
Ed.'s note: Anjanette liked Panther. She argued he was satirical, and like Har Mar Superstar. She has a point; I just don't want to see the dude's butt crack again.
When it was all over there was much blinking and frowning and brow-furrowing as people struggled to remember why they had come to this show in the...OH YES! THE GOSSIP! It was a long climb up out of post-Panther lethargy, and Beth, Hannah and Brace/Nathan hadn't soundchecked yet, but dammit if Goxxip magic is not so potent, immediate and irresistible it couldn't overcome a hundred missed soundchecks. They ripped up about half of Standing In The Way of Control, a couple from Movement, old standbys Ain't It The Truth and Sweet Baby, and an acappella-ish cover of Aaliyah's Are You That Somebody? Beth said she was on her period and getting over a cold, but roared and thundered like a force-10 hurricane nonetheless. The floor was queer danceteria afterlife, roiling with happy bodies sweaty and free and fat and thin, tranny and non and tiny and tall. My dancing neighbor rushed the stage during the encore and boogied with pals, who looked like they had been born for this very purpose. Panther? Panther who?