Stronger Loving World

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Sunday, November 26, 2006

DAT Politics performed last night at Tonic, along with Kevin Blechdom. DAT Politics are electronic musicians from Lille, France. Kevin Blechdom is Kristin Erickson, an Oakland native (and Mills College alumni) who is most famous for being one half of the band "Blechdom from Blectum" with her then girlfriend (who took the stagename Blevin Blechtom). When the duo split a few years back, each retained their stagenames.

The opening act Lumberrob, was a human beatbox act, wherein Rob used a pedal to cue pre-recorded beatboxing tracks and played with them live. This provoked a few really nice moments, as when the multiple layers cued out, Rob did something weird, and upon stomping on the pedal 4 or so tracks rolled back in. I guess it was sort of a joke act, though.

Also performing that night was Ching Chong Song, a really weird guy/girl duo, the guy on piano ("and wearing a piano tie") and the girl performing operatically. Similarly to Kevin Blechdom, she sang funny, silly songs but does it with faux-earnestness (or earnestness?). Kevin also played along with Ching Chong on banjo for a song or two.

I was really excited to see Kevin Blechdom, because I've read crazy things about her live shows. Touring for "Eat Your Heart Out", Blechdom played topless and covered with goats intestines. That wasn't the case this time, but it was pretty raunchy. When she entered the building she was wearing a coonskin cap and a suede jacket. When she went up for her set, she had changed into a white gown, and, as we later learn, nothing underneath. Her set offered very little other than her trademark handwaving and pantomiming, along with some jokes. At one point, for instance, she said "this is the best song I've ever written", and then pantomimed a 3 or 4 minute song without singing a word. She played up how dramatic the song would be if you could only hear her voice but kneeling on the floor, stabbing the heavens, rolling around, pointing, etc.

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At some point during her set, Kevin proclaimed that she was going to commence the first ever "masturbation olympics", at which point Julie from Ching Chong Song came onstage and they both lifted their dresses and showed their bushes to the audience. The piano player played and they both masturbated in front of the audience (Blechdom humping the floor at one point) until Kevin said that she "won". When the piano player asked if she had orgasmed she said "uh I think so", clearly wanting to finish up the bit, which obviously had no coherent ending. The piano player teased her about this by saying "you think so? Have you never had an orgasm before?"

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And then Kevin excitedly said that Julie would do some "forced queefs" into the microphone for us. Which she did two of.

I was pretty sure that this broke some kind of public indecency laws, but according to New York State statute 245.01:

"New York
(Exposure of a person)
Appearance in a public place with private or intimate parts unclothed or exposed. "For purposes of this section, the private or intimate parts of a female person shall include that portion of the breast which is below the top of the areola. This section shall not apply to the breastfeeding of infants or to any person entertaining or performing in a play, exhibition, show or entertainment."

Speaking to Kevin afterwards she said she was "really drunk" and didn't think she performed very well. The set was definately sloppy and hindered on her being fearless and obnoxious. Blechdom's recorded music, particularly Eat Your Heart Out is great because it uses cabaret, performance, and irony as conduits to demonstrate very simple, earnest ideas. Blechdom understands that sometimes you can't sound earnest without using irony to communicate. After the masturbation olympics and the queefing, she sang "Slow Me Down", which is the softest, most straightforward, and gentle song on the new album.

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Almost all of the songs they performed were from Wow Twist. Wow Twist is very upbeat, very palatable, and very much designed for live performance. The set plowed through all of the songs, with Gaetan hopping up and down and swinging, her tiny frame flopping as if she was in a punk band. Very little else was added to the show, except that all of the tracks were "weirded up" and drawn out for live performance. "What's DAT", was pulled out into a dreamy, twinkling, repeating beat as Gaetan screamed "What the fuck is DAT? What the fuck is DAT?" (which does not happen on record) The last two songs were "Turn my Brain off" and "Gravity", the latter being the encore, which are also the poppiest of the songs on the new album.

The last time I saw DAT play was at Tonic in May 2003 and this set was very different. At that time, touring for the just released (and amazing) Plugs Plus, they were playful but ultimately sort of conceptual and out there. At one point they used virtual drumsticks to play along live with the audience. I think there was still an understandable novelty to being a "laptop musician" at the time, at musicians like Terre Thaemlitz and Max Tundra were trying to find weird elements to add on to the set make them more interactive.

This time, only one of the band members had a laptop onstage, with Gaetan bouncing around with a microphone, unencumbered by machinery. The emphasis was on getting people to dance, which they did very successfully.

That's the other thing, when I saw them in 2003 there was definately next to no dancing. Indeed, I don't think Tonic was perceived as the type of place where people danced. I was really surprised to see all the bopping heads at this show, although I'm not sure if it's just that DAT politics has loosened up or if new york has.

Also, I bought an EP of new DAT material that was just released by ski-pp, although I haven't heard it yet.

Also, I spotted Nathan Michel in the audience and told him how much I like the Beast. He recognized my name from an e-mail interview I did with him 3 years ago and said, "that's the best interview I've ever done!", which was flattering, but I think I scared him away due to the fact that I was very, very drunk and tired and probably gushing.

Also, I did not get home until 5 in the morning. This has been happening to me lately.

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Here is video of DAT Politics performing in SF to give you an idea of what they are like live:

the end