Show Review: Stereo Total at Slim’s, 9/2/10

by Marie Carney on September 6, 2010

Thursday night usually isn’t a night people stay in, but by the sparse attendence at Slim’s for the Stereo Total show you would have thought it was Monday night.  Maybe it was the $20 ticket price, or the fact that Jenny and Johnny stole the indie kids for the evening, but either way I can’t say I was disappointed.  Those who were there brought their A game (including a gentlemen with flowers wrapped in leopard print tissue paper for Francoise!).  And most importantly, there was plenty of room to dance.

Now, I’m not sure how I keep doing this, but I have a tendency to see bands for the first time years past the peak of my fandom.  In the case of Stereo Total I think of 2005 when I had an unhealthy and possibly annoying to friends obsession with the song “Babystrich.”  Since then I’ve enjoyed albums, but have not reached anything near the constant blasting in my car that was 2005.  Looking around the room waiting for the band to start I began to wonder exactly why I was there until Francoise Cactus and Brezel Goring came out on stage to a lot of screams and a rush for the stage.  Oh yes.  This is why I love music.

The begining of the set was almost entirely material off Stereo Total’s newest release Baby Ouh!.  Apparently this is their formula: new album first, fan favourites later.  This was confirmed when a particularly vocal fan called out for “Ringo, I Love You” and was met with what was to be the first of Francoise Cactus’ rebukes “No.  We are playing new songs now.”  It was the fifth song before we got something mildly older, but it took about 12 songs before they brought out “Holiday Inn,” which was brilliantly intro-ed with a cover of Salt N Pepa’s “Push It.”  What seemed the oddest about the whole thing though was that there was no written setlist but also no obvious communication between Mr. Goring and Ms. Cactus.  Yet they would seamlessly switch instruments and play the next song.  Well, at least in the beginning…

Maybe it was the small crowd, or maybe it was the band’s stage presence, but quickly the set structure changed as the audience yelled more and more requests.  Some were completely ignored, some were played lovingly, and one was met with complete disgust from Francoise: “I am not singing that song.” she firmly stated as the intro to “I am Naked” was begun by Brezel.  It was a shocking moment of honesty, and a wonderful demonstration of what was so great about seeing them live.  There is absolutely no bullshit.  You get exactly what you expect.  Fun music in many languages and a lot of punk attitude.

Hands down though my favourite part of the performance was the contrast between the band members themselves.  From the moment they walked on stage Francoise Cactus was all quiet attitude and Brezel Goring was all dancing and smiles.  Although Brezel was often more vocal, and certainly more friendly, between songs it was obvious that Francoise ran the show.  With her deep voice and strong presence she held everyone’s attention without needing to dance around or even smile much.  It was quite enthralling.

After about an hour the band left the stage, but only made us scream for them for about two minutes before they came back out for an encore.  It was only two songs, but it was the most energy and fun of the whole evening (which is saying quite a lot!).  “C’est la Mort” began the encore, and in the middle of the song, Brezel Goring got the audience to condense enough to allow a quick stage dive.  I couldn’t believe he made it back on stage without falling but he did.  Then, when they went into “Everybody in the Discotheque (I Hate),” Francoise started pulling people onstage, then Brezel was pulling people on stage and pretty soon there were more people dancing on stage than in the audience.  It was so joyous and exuberant I don’t think anyone left disappointed.  If they did, then they shouldn’t be allowed to go to shows anymore.

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