THE GOSSIp with Grasshopper and Har Mar Superstar at Lee's Palace, December 12. Tickets: $10. Attendance: 183. Rating: NNNN Rating: NNNNN
there are a few spectacles so horrifying that they leave me distraught and incapable of turning away from the conceptual car wreck unfolding before my eyes. One is wannabe rock stars who, failing either to rock or roll, engage in ridiculous Iggy-Pop-meets-Oasis antics onstage in an attempt to distract us from the shoddy quality of their tunes.
Case in point: Grasshopper key man, the dreadlocked Derek Madison (think Adam Duritz but dorkier) who warmed up the crowd for the formidable Gossip. When the smallish audience all but ignored his tepid mid-90s alt-rock tunes, Madison proceeded to flail guitar-first from one side of the stage to the other, writhing on top of amps and speaker stacks.
Thank heaven the Gossip arrived to heal my shattered heart.
Led by bodacious soul goddess Beth Ditto, the blues-punk-rockabilly three-piece blew the roof off the filled-up Lee's Palace with their Southern-fried attempt at, to use the words of the divine Ms. Ditto, a sweaty Dance Party Canada.
Charging up their guitar-and-drums assault with loads of feedback and a healthy reliance on the bassy end of the spectrum, the band blasted through 11 transcendent tracks of soulful rock 'n' roll.
It was a delirious, danceworthy delight compared to the band's appearance at the Rivoli this past summer, which was less than stellar due to Ditto's nasty cold and guitarist Nathan "Brace" Howdeshell's hand injury. This time, Ditto captivated with her incredible impassioned wail. If Jon Spencer's wondering who stole the soul from his Blues Explosion, he should get in touch with Ditto and Co.
What's up with the Gossip's relegation to the status of openers? It defies logic, especially since half the crowd cleared out once the band left the stage, essentially dissing robe-clad Kelly Osbourne collaborator Har Mar Superstar.
The paunchy, balding dude is a tremendous showman. He showed off ass-shakin' aplenty and even a striptease or three while crooning over pre-recorded glossy, funky pop.
The novelty of his less raunchy boy Peaches act should've worn off. But he oozed ego and electricity and kept the audience hopping with surprises. The striptease was hysterical, a Free To Be You And Me cover even more so, and Ditto's guest stint on the sultry Power Lunch sealed the deal.
By the time Har Mar shimmied down onto the dance floor and hopped the rail, mike in tow, to get nasty with the ladies and lads in the crowd, we were all hooked.