Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Slits / The Go-Going-Gone Girls / Sassy!!! @ The Bottom of the Hill, San Francisco, 10 December 2009

Ari Up is roughly the same age as me. We are pretty similar except that at age 14, when I was listening to Supertramp, she was forming The Slits. In this small club her confidence was overpowering, she is among the most charismatic performers I have ever seen. As often happens with British bands The Slits had lost a member to the INS, in this case a keyboard player. Despite this they made a full sound, anchored by founding member Tessa Pollit on bass and with San Francisco guitarist Michelle Hill (I am sure I have seen her in some other band) adding colour.

Earlier San Francisco duo Sassy!!! got a good reception. They dress a bit like 1975 Led Zeppelin, and sound a bit like them, or maybe The White Stripes. There's a young woman drummer, in white, with glitter and a young woman guitarist in black, with glitter. Both sing, I preferred the drummer's croaky rock'n'roll voice.

The Go-Going-Gone Girls are a sort of multi-generational, post-modern version of a girl group. They are clever, with some amusing shtick about different languages which included songs in Spanish, Italian, and Swedish (I think). When I am king, support bands will be limited to 25 minutes, and they went a bit too long for me (as it was a school night).

The show was not sold out, which surprised me. The crowd was a mixture of old and young, with several mother/daughter outings in progress. The older crowd looked good, with one person near me sporting a nice punky tea-cosy hat.

So the Slits were fantastic. A weirdness of modern life is that at every concert there is some loser who would rather play with a gadget instead of actually enjoy the show. So you can actually see one of the highlights of the show (embedded below), where Ari Up invites some members of the audience to participate in the backing vocals for their classic old song Typical Girls. The volunteer vocalists turn out to be Sassy!!!, who by this time have been celebrating their earlier success with a few drinks (I know as I was sitting by them in the back lounge). There is also a false start, just like on a very amusing Slits bootleg I have. And it was great. But of course watching the video is a bit boring. I guess you had to be there.

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