Show Review: Electric Six, The Gay Blades & Millions of Brazilians at The Independent, 11/12/09

by Gordon Elgart on November 13, 2009

You must obey him.

You must obey him.

The Electric Six burst onto the scene in 2003 with my personal favorite album of the year, Fire. I wrote back then:

Here it is, the greatest walking album ever created, and it is a concept album. The concept is dancing while on fire. It equates dancing with war, nuclear war in fact. The orders are given by a dance commander in the song of the same title that contains the lyric “It would be awesome if we could dance-uh.” Every song on here is incredibly fun and silly and danceable and singable and just downright brilliant. This is just quality disco rock and roll, and well … it is without precedent. I have never heard an album quite like this, and hope I don’t ever hear another like it. I don’t want this band to try and do this concept again. It would be like The Who doing Tommy 2.

Six years later, without anything remotely resembling follow-up success (even though their album I Shall Exterminate Everything Around Me That Restricts Me From Being the Master has one of the all-time great titles), the band is still filling up the Independent on a Thursday night with their brand of cocky dance rock.

Opening the show was a band called Millions of Brazilians.  They were a poorly named band as there are only three of them (no bass player). I don’t know if they are Brazilian or not. This band looks like the happiest band in the world when they’re on stage. They have the time of their life, but they’re not a great band. They’re a good band, especially when they lean toward the hard rock. When they try to pull out the dance sounds, they’re not tight enough to pull off a killer groove. The guitarist is an absolute master at playing riffs, and I think he wishes he were in a better band, one that just rocks out all the time. That said, they were consistently entertaining, especially the energetic drummer, and the lead singer ended the show standing on top of the bar, playing a drum with one hand and drinking a beer with the other.

The happiest drummer in the world plays for Millions of Brazilians

The happiest drummer in the world plays for Millions of Brazilians

Next up were The Gay Blades were a duo (no bass player). For them, I wrote “songs 2, attitude 10.” When not singing, the singer took on the persona of a revival preacher, getting the crowd to clap along, sing songs they hardly know, and jump around. While singing, though, the songs were pretty boring. They had a pop sound to them, but they’re un-memorable. No matter, though, because this band has a high watch-ability factor. My friend assured me that both of them were really hot, albeit for different reasons. The bearded drummer is featured on one of the band’s t-shirts, even. I like this band’s sense of humor, too, as the band sells a sweatshirt with the slogan, “Actually, it’s your band name that sucks.” That’s some self aware humor!

You can see the drummer and his t-shirt in this photo.

You can see the drummer and his t-shirt in this photo.

Finally, the Electric Six started up (finally a bass player), and watching this band is all about seeing what Dick Valentine is going to be up to. Tonight, he came out in a crumped-up pinstripe suit. He made a lot of jokes about drinking too much and smoking too much, and pretty much kept to the lyric sheet. The place was nearly full by the time it got started, and what surprised me was that a pit started up a few songs into the set. It was a nuclear war on the dance floor! (Except they didn’t play that.) At one point, someone had to be kicked out after Dick pointed him out: “Easy on the pushing. You’re a fucking idiot.”

The band had about 25 hardcore fans there, and everyone else was waiting around for the songs off of Fire. When they finally played one, “Improper Dancing,” the entire crowd came to life.  In between “Stop!” and “Continue!” was inserted an aborted cover of the INXS classic “Tear Us Apart.”

He wants to take you to a ... never mind.

He wants to take you to a ... never mind.

The pattern continued throughout the show, with the earlier material meeting with insanity on the floor, and the newer stuff being basically ignored. I discovered something I hadn’t realized before: the band’s mediocre songs are pretty mediocre (particularly “Slices of You”).  There’s only a few highlights in their catalog for me other than their debut record, and they hit all two out of three of them: “I Buy the Drugs” and “Dance Epidemic” were played, but their cover of “Radio Ga Ga” was not.

The ironic thing about the Electric Six is that Dick Valentine, who writes so many songs about dancing, can’t really dance very well. Instead, he relies on a lot of Vegasy pointing and smiling as he walks around the stage. His voice is just so awesome, yet he doesn’t look at all like he sounds. At one point during the show, a girl took off her top and started dancing suggestively around the stage. Dick Valentine laughed it off, and eventually security took her away. Later, during the encore, she jumped back on stage again. This time, he picked her up fireman style and handed her to security. And when a different girl did the same thing only seconds later, he waved “bye bye” to her as security took her away. He thanked the crowd: “thanks for letting us share the stage with you tonight.”

You’re welcome. Come back any time.

He invented the night, in case you didn't know.

He invented the night, in case you didn't know.

Set list:

Waste of Time and Money
Dirty Ball
Down at McDonnellzzz
Egyptian Cowboy
Improper Dancing
Danger! (High Voltage)
Slices of You
Body Shot
Formula 409
Steal Your Bones
Gay Bar
Be My Dark Angel
I Buy the Drugs
We Were Witchy Witchy White Women
Dance Pattern
Dance Epidemic
Dance Commander

Photos on this post taken by Ophelia Drowning

Gordon Elgart

A music nerd who probably uses that term too much. I have a deep love for bombastic, quirky and dynamic music.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

D. Hazel Young November 17, 2009 at 4:52 pm

These pictures at the Electric Six show are terrific. My favorite is the one featuring the drummmer for Millions of Brazilians– his sticks a blur, his arm tensed, his head lifted. It’s an emotional shot because he seems intensely engaged in the music. And the photo of the bass player for the Electric Six is stunning. In his white suit he is illuminated and ghostly all at once. Nice shot.


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