Trixie & Ian: Strange narratives set to music
Scene Creamers with Trixie Delicious
at Tokyo Rose
Friday, February 28
Ian Svenonius, singer with Scene Creamers, began his inter-song dialogues with a comment that set the tone for the rest of the evening. Explaining that he'd recently read one of Salvador Dali's books, in which the author hypothesizes that Hitler was following a "Wagnerian narrative" to fame and ever-lasting glory when he committed his horrors, Svenonius declared that the band was going to make a "narrative" of their own in the course of the evening to destroy President George W. Bush and all of America.
Some audience members chanted the expected "down with Bush," some wondered just who this Wagner character was, but most just gazed on in mild amusement, which turned out to be a common response to Svenonius' learned but oblique comments throughout the night.
On the other hand, the music in between the incendiary words of revolution was phenomenal, a singular mix of late '60s British rock and early '70s soul and funk, sung by Svenonius in a voice that went from soft to screaming within a line.
Scene Creamers' set followed a performance by the "drag-a-billy" group Trixie Delicious, a five-member outfit fronted by drag queen Trixie herself. I've seen two performances by the group, and the Rose is always packed for them– it must be that people who never go to other rock shows go see Trixie. Though the group does put on a wild, dance-inducing performance, I'm guessing the increased attendance is caused more by both the group's ability to throw down quite a live show and what the group represents, rather than their music.
The band was tight, the audience was extremely into them, and dancing was only impeded by the fact that everyone was packed in like sardines- but this didn't stop certain individuals, I can tell you that.
The Scene Creamers went on to a noticeably less full house, although the place still could be described as "packed." Groove-laden funk riffs, backed by some great right-on drumming, brought audience members to a frenzy, although they seemed generally more restrained than during Trixie Delicious' set.
A lot of music fans were there to compare the band to Svenonius and bassist Michelle Mae's earlier project, the much loved aggressively schizophrenic D.C rock group, the Make-Up. And although I found their new reliance on more relaxed R&B a welcome change from the Make-Up's amphetamine-laced work, some had a different opinion.
I had a slight but amusing conversation with Svenonius in the week before the show, the text of which will probably never see the light of day, but during the course of our chat he often espoused the anti-capitalist stance that he displayed Friday night. Inspirations for his group's reactionary politics include Fidel Castro, the FARC, and the Viet Cong– so I for one was prepared for the singer's strident political stance.
As for the rest of my somewhat confused audience confederates, I think it might have been useful if the band gave out handbills before the show, with its manifestoes written out in clear and concise language. We are just the proletariat, after all.