Out West Arts: Performance at the end of the world

Opera, music, theater, and art in Los Angeles and beyond

Sisters are Doing it for Themselves

September 13, 2010

That old time religion with the Scissor Sisters in Hollywood Photo: mine 2010

I wasn’t going to say anything about the Scissor Sisters performance at the Hollywood Palladium this weekend. It was a fun show from this American outfit, still greatly under-appreciated in their own country where fake TV homosexuality is more palatable to middle America than the real on stage kind. (A fact of course they happily wear on their collected sleeve.) The band is relentlessly tight and worked their way through a very rehearsed and lively set of familiar hits and songs including some from Night Work, their well received new recording. But the most interesting part, (aside from Jake Shears and Ana Matronic's increasingly hot gym bods which have definitely benefited from some attention sometime along the way) came in a mini-rant from co-lead singer Ana Matronic. Towards the end of the evening, she slammed out an undisclosed print critic for recently calling the band's current touring show “shallow.” She responded to this perceived attack by embracing the term and aligning it with an LGBT community that continues to suffer discrimination of all kinds in many places around the world. For Scissor Sisters, the feel-good party atmosphere is a refuge and validation for the like-minded in a still cruel world. So there.

Fair enough, I say. There is certainly plenty of truth to that and calling dance music “shallow” is hardly a very sophisticated or insightful critique in 2010. However, I would argue that the purported shallowness of the Scissor Sisters isn’t really the problem. The problem is that crafting dance music as a sort of "liberation theology" has been done before. Freeing your mind with your ass close behind and all this one-nation-under-a-groove business has been done far better by many others for at least 40 years. Scissor Sisters are fun and competent musicians. Their crime is not shallowness, but lack of originality. Saturday’s opening act, a solo Casey Spooner with nothing more than a gray suit and a microphone delivered more sly wit in his five or six number karaoke set with far fewer pyrotechnics. Granted, this may not be his natural state. Nonetheless, with this preview of material from his forthcoming recording Adult Contemporary, with features tracks co-written with Shears, Spooner delivered one dead pan word bomb after the next including paeans to cinnamon toast and not going out. “I don’t want to go/I just want to be invited.” And there, my friends, is a worldwide sentiment that you can relate to.



I'd like to echo your sentiments about the Scissor Sisters' originality. Musically, they're pretty tight and put on a solidly entertaining show, but I tend to find their outlandish, in-your-face exuberance a bit wearing. They kind of remind me of drag queens without the requisite self-loathing... And as a young, gay man I feel just a little bit awkward about what they're preaching, much in the way that I feel a bit awkward around grown adults who frequent Burning Man.
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