Gloria Estefan once sang “You know the rhythm is going to get you tonight,” and you surely do grasp just that when the London-based band Shopping comes to town. They popped by for a visit at the newly reopened Market Hotel in Bushwick for a group show where they showed off their power to get people on their feet, get up, and make it happen. They are touring in support of their third album, The Official Body, which exhibits some outright dogmatic rage towards the present political climate and those nasty buggers that make our world so much less noble every day. Their new project works in conceptual progression with their previous two albums, 2013’s Consumer Complaints that rallied against commercialism, and 2015’s Why Choose, which was a definite call to arms, but no matter how weighty the subject matter, the band always manages keep you uplifted and inspired, especially in person, where there’s no place that you can hide, cause the rhythm is gonna get’cha…
Starting off the show was a very raw and artsy duo project called Pickled Onion. They certainly have a history of outlandishly artistic stage performances, as Sarah Datblygu is from Wetdog and Jose Garcia from the band Beets, both of which were some truly mind-bending experiences to witness in person. Spoiler alert: you may find their performances get a little saucy when Sarah whips off her long sports coat to reveal a hulking white phallus, which fit nicely into a show that was steadfastly awash in androgyny and absurdist performance art not dissimilar to electronic Londoners, No Bra.
Next up was a local pop/punk art collective called Future Punx who I’ve caught before, and they are always worth weirding out to. They blend a healthy dose of early danceable 80’s new wave and arty late 80’s No Wave, with a spoonful of loud and proud 90’s garage punk. They are full of Devo vibes and Gang of Four tremors, but they are more than retro dance party fun, as they also clearly express anger and frustration at racial, gender, and religious oppression. As a true testament to their fortitude, the fire alarm started going off mid-set, but they showed striking resilience as trekked on through their set with the blaring alarm, after a while, almost becoming part of their eclectically retro sound.
After that there was the LA band of gypsies called French Vanilla, whom are a socially-conscious and nihilistically wacko post punk comment on the bourgeois institutions ingrained into orthodox society. The show is fronted by the firebrand frontwoman Sally Spitz who screams, howls, whirls, and gyrates around the stage with the dementia of a demon and the righteousness of an angel, while the rhythm section keeps you charging into a sweaty hell and sax-solos blast you off to the heavens. They remind me of a more West Coast Downtown Boys or Priests (whom I incidentally caught Shopping open for when I previously saw them), and for more than just socially conscious content, as the similar howling frontwomen and sax blaring demonstrate. Still, they too set themselves apart with a slick LA rowdiness and a decent helping of sun-soaked B-52s party hearty attitude.
When I last saw the UK trio Shopping open for Priests a couple years back, I was totally amazed at their energy and feistiness. Now, they sound even more in charge as a headliner, using their bouncy rhythms, surfy guitar lines, and punky ‘tudes to lure the audience into spellbound bopping about as though the whole floor was on pogo sticks. There is a feel of classic London post-punk there, rallying against Thatcher reign and the stiff British society that put those pissers in power. Frontwoman Rachel Aggs bounces around stage in her socks brimming with bountiful energy, and releases all of her power in agile and rocking guitar lines. She spreads the good humor and party-like atmosphere throughout the audience even though they are often playing songs about revolution, capitalism gone amuck, sexism, and plenty more social strife custom made to shaking your ass to. Bassist and keyboardist Billy Easter and the hilarious drummer Andrew Milk really drive the songs along, and make this import more than just a socially-conscious rock, as they obviously also know how to throw a real raucous party.
Article: Dean Keim