Last Night: Gang Gang Dance at Bimbo's
Gang Gang Dance
Friday, Nov. 14, 2008
Words and photos by Jennifer Maerz
Better than: Watching DJs push buttons on laptops.
Where to stand during a Gang Gang Dance show?
Last night at Bimbo's, the crowd was small -- cozy enough to fit into the hardwood area in front of the tables -- so positioning yourself was simple. Did you want to sit with the glassy eyed (from the end of a long work week or the beginning of a long weekend, it was unclear) polite types at the tables as the New York electronic sorcerers conjured the spirit of My Bloody Valentine, '90s raves, and 4AD Records from the stage? Not really. The energy spirited out from the band didn't seem to travel over the fluffy cuts of the tall dudes in the back row.
Did you instead want to crush into the gooey center, where unsober twentysomethings shouted "FUCKING YEAH!" and "GANG GANG DANCE OH MY GOD" with orgiastic pleasure as they twisted off their shirts and did a slow mosh into each other's sweaty bodies? Once again, not really. Although said unsober twentysomethings were still quite apologetic when the intensity of a double-percussion/reverbed guitar/synth head fuck drove their entire weight onto your shoe.
Another place to stand: within the front row. That's were other appreciative fans planted themselves, stock-still, mesmerized as singer/percussionist Lizzi Bougatsos, dressed in a forest green jumpsuit, wailed, howled and emitted other guttural exclamations that were electronically processed until she was swaddled in her own voice as she sang new notes. If you stood with the spellbound, you could still feel the ecstatic vibe, which occasionally pushed a nearby couple into a lip embrace for the remainder of a song.
In the end, though, your physical position in relation to the band was irrelevant. If you're anything of a Gang Gang Dance fan, last night Bougatsos, Brian Degraw, Tim Dewit and Josh Diamond seduced you, pulling people into their futuristic dance music. The fog machine created the haze for your eyes, but their music provided the haze for your head.
Bougatsos may speak like an Italian from Jersey between songs (it's really funny to hear her speak in such a thick accent, about being nicknamed "Doctor Lasagna" and having met Harvey Keitel) but she sings like a Middle Eastern Kate Bush. Her chants and coos are exotic on stage, especially tucked inside such a dense display of synth and guitar effects, and percussion that comes at you from every angle.
It's too bad there weren't more bodies convulsing into one another, or meditating motionless, or making out with one another, or sitting at tables, while Gang Gang Dance performed on stage. Because in the world of experimental electronic music they're truly magnetic.
Critical bias:Gang Gang Dance's new record, Saint Dymphna, was a slow grower .... but once it locked into place it's all I can listen to. Check out "Vacuum" (from Toe Taps and Spastic Claps), one of the best homages I've heard to My Bloody Valentine (intentional or not) in a long time.
Read more: about Gang Gang Dance here.