Brassy @ Double Door
Chicago, IL, 3/21
Brassy isn’t yr average hardcore/Kurtis Blow/funk/DIY rock collective. No wait, they are.
Brassy does two things very well. First, mouthpiece Muffin (sister of Jon) Spencer’s supreme belief in her band’s dominance over all comers is admirable. And the band is very adept at making tons of noise, even if the pieces don’t always fit together. When a glorified punk rock quartet gives its drummer double-duty on the wheels of steel, and sprinkles its tightly-wound booty anthems with amateurish MC’ing straight outta Whodini, something might be lost in the translation. At The Double Door Tuesday, Brassy’s inside joke never quite got over on a crowd unresponsive to their punkrock.com 2-minute drill.
Muffin’s hand-on-the-hip vocal posturing has a lot of sass. She knows what boys like, and what girls want, too. Guitar slung low on her hip like some kind of B-team female Han Solo, Spencer’s stage moves consisted of a cocky smirk coupled with a cat-scratching hand gesture, suggesting that this pussy had claws. While her guitar-playing was satisfactory, it was definitely Bono to Stefan Gordon’s careening wave-wall of distortion. His defeaning screed was complimented by Karen Frost’s capably funky basslines and Johnny Barrington’s drums. But wait! Barrington also plays the role of DJ Swett, his masked marvel alter ego who supplies Brassy’s electrofunk, gonna-make-you-sweat side. What was odd about this arrangement is that the group couldn’t afford another drummer to spell Swett’s while he was spinning. Instead, Barrington/Swett had to leap between his equipment like he was a contestant on an early, punk-dance incarnation of “American Gladiators.” Not really sure why this was so, but it didn’t add any cohesion to an already disjointed set.
While Brassy’s hardcore numbers suggested the sneering punk of (fellow Wiiija Record-mates) Huggy Bear, the addition of decks, samples, and white-girl raps was like watching Bratmobile if they’d grown up in 1980s Queens. At one point, my pal Phil Wise leaned over and said, “Someone’s been listening to The Plasmatics.” While no one in Brassy accessorized their nipples with electrical tape, that group’s hurried, style-over-substance approach to Rock and Roll reared its head during Brassy’s athletic 40-minute set. On record (Got It Made, Wiiija), Brassy’s confluence of styles works a little better, no doubt helped along by overdubbing DJ Swett’s electronic flourishes. But in the future, Muffin and her peeps should probably back up their bravado with a better, more succinct approach to their booty-rock mojo.