Monday, October 26, 2009

The Gossip

Regency Ballroom, San Francisco, October 25, 2009

As expected, the crowd at the Gossip was very queer, very hipster. Everyone was fabulous. Everyone. & plus I’m going to go on record saying I have never, ever seen a mohawk look bad on a lesbian. Quote me all you like on that one.

So, when the houselights FUCKING FINALLY go dark, the band comes out drums, then bass, then guitar, & they vamp for a short bit & the crowd is avid & enthusiastic. Then, out comes Beth Ditto with shocking Ziggy-orange hair & singing Dimestore Diamond & the entire Regency Ballroom instantly loses its collective mind, screaming & crying & falling in hysterics. I kid you not, this was adulation right out of the gate. Before the night was over, more than one young lady had removed garments from her own self & passed them up to the stage including, at one point, a pair of black lace panties. Yeah, it was that kind of a night.

& the love was fully reciprocated. Beth sang every song from the absolute edge of the stage, reaching down & touching as many of the assembled supplicants as possible. Singing to them, caressing hands & arms, waxing affectionate between songs about how magical & wonderful it is that we’re all queer & we’re all here together in San Francisco & what an honor it is to be here & thank you for having me I mean it. In all candor, it was so sincere & heartfelt that I found myself getting more than a little caught up in it all.

Of course it doesn’t hurt that the band rocks. Good drummer, great bass player, and fantastic guitar player. Brace Paine (I can’t tell if that’s his punk rock name or his real name) is the guitarist, & his rhythm chops are really just all that. His playing is very fast, very very tight, but also he just has a tremendous amount of grace, style, & well, finesse. Structurally, this is basically a punk band w/variations, & some of the songs are in a classic hardcore mode. So it’s not as if Mr. Paine needs to resort to much subtlety, but it’s there if you listen for it. I also appreciate that he can & frequently does funk it up good, too.

OK but really? Is anyone other than me in this room listening with that critical of an ear? Because Beth really IS the show here. She owns the room & you know what? She earns it every single moment. Beth has an enormous voice, overwhelming even. Her singing is very Tina Turner in tone, timbre, overall dynamic approach. But I only say that for need of a descriptor, bc what she does is not derivative, it’s all her own, & it is a force of nature. Like a god damn hurricane. Oh, & she apologized early in the show bc she’s getting over a cold & so she’s hoarse. Good god, I can’t even imagine how she performs when she’s at the top of her game!

OK, so Beth is awesome. What’s nice is that Beth is also actually very humble, & has a great sense of the history that precedes her. She gave props to Sleater-Kinney, she covered Bikini Kill (!). For the 1st encore, she came out & covered Tina Turner, & I actually found that kind of moving, in a way I’m not really able to explain quite yet.

OK, & then Beth did something I’ve never seen before. The show was clearly over, houselights were on, & the band was done & gone. & Beth comes back out on stage all alone, she makes a little speech about what a pioneer Freddie Mercury was, & then she leads the crowd in a rousing chorus of “We Are the Champions.” Yes, I am fully cognizant of how hokey this sounds in the light of day, but Wow that was a fucking Moment. & I will remember it always.


  1. Now I'm really sorry I didn't go with you! Sounds like I really missed out! Bummer!!

  2. Oh, and I'll be getting my mohawk ASAP!

  3. Sounds fabulous and fashonistaville...whats wrong with hokey anyway? I dig hokey and raise you a geeky which equals one heck on an unusal good time!

  4. Love this picture, and the show sounds amazing.