LES GEORGES LENINGRAD with Le Tigre and Lesbians on Ecstasy at the Phoenix (410 Sherbourne), Monday (November 17). $15. Rating: NNNNN
www.rootmeansquare.ca Montreal artsy freak show les Georges Leningrad operate within a web of absurdity. From their aggressively dissonant lo-fi electro noise-punk sonics to their puerile lyrics (imagine a Powerpuff girl shrieking "Bad smell!" in Frenglish), campy costumes, garish paper-bag masks and the elementary-school-talent-show set designs of their live shows, the cultish four-piece is weirder than any shit you ever saw on Pee-wee's Playhouse.
Did I mention that their mysterious fifth member is a ghost named Georges who reportedly contacted the band via a Ouija board?
The weirdest buzz hovering around Les Georges Leningrad has got to be the story that they toured Europe with a Genesis cover band.
"Oh, that's not a rumour," squeaks singer Poney P over the phone from Montreal. "It was something that was supposed to be, but was completely absurd. This man came with a big cigar and money in his pockets, like, 'Hey, babies, I've got money for you! I'm gonna be your super-impresario!' He wanted to make us tour with that Genesis cover band. But I hate Genesis! I just see them on video or I see their records and just want to break them!
"But this guy was delirious. He didn't face the truth of who we were. The fans of the Genesis cover band would hate us! They would beat us and kill us! So he came with the ideas and just left much later, and we never saw him again."
You need only look to Les Georges' debut disc, Deux Hot Dogs Moutarde Chou (Blow the Fuse), for proof that the self-described "petrochemical rockers" ("It's explosive, like there's a chemical reaction going on," explains Poney) are diametrically opposed to all things Phil Collins.
It's almost comically abrasive, with squawking saxophones, watery synth spurts, rubbery, angular bass lines and maniacal call-and-response vocals that sound like fairy tales your babysitter might have told you in the 80s if your babysitter was an acid-damaged clown.
Much like hot mustard, it's an acquired taste that only fans of Erase Errata and the Flying Lizards will find soothing, but Poney claims her band (fleshed out by her husband Bobo and fellow married art kooks Toundra LaLouve and Mingo L'Indien) isn't just trying to make a confrontational mess.
"For me, it's very melodic and very charming, and I don't see it as a confrontation. Maybe as an act of music, with all the blood and the knives and the elements of violence, it can be offensive."
She insists the recording doesn't do the band justice.
"I always think the record is not that good; it's more like the soundtrack for a movie," which is easy to imagine when you're dealing with musicians who danced on banana peels - as amateur stunt people - for shits and giggles during this year's CMJ conference in New York.
That Evel Knievel recklessness is the beauty of Les Georges Leningrad. At heart, they're just four francophone art-school kids who grew up singing into their hairbrushes and really don't give a rat's ass about whether or not the audience wants to - or is able to - sing along to their tunes.
And their blatant disregard for the rules of cool is what elicits such visceral responses from people.
"Journalists sometimes say we are dumb, stupid and ugly, and sometimes they say we are pure geniuses!" Poney admits. "We are something between good and evil. We're very bastard, like a kid who watched too much TV young and has all these commercials he knows by heart. He took all this garbage he had in his head and it makes a planet of clichés."