Last night at the Pistol was the sexiest show of the summer so far.
All it took was one listen to one song and a look at a photo or two of the lead singer (hot-cha!) and I knew I had to see Glass Candy play the Pistol Social Club last night. (Thank you, Myspace.) The Portland, Oregon, band had played here three or four times before — luckily, to good crowds, hence their return — but I hadn't been in on the secret those times. Or I had ignored it. Or the planets hadn't been in the proper alignment. This time they were, and as I write this now, ten hours and a night's fitful sleep since the show, I'm still reeling.
I got to the Pistol around 9:45 and found an unusually large contingent of people on the sidewalk in front. The second-story West Bottoms loft, which makes a comfortable, romantic venue in cooler weather, turns into a sweatlodge in the summertime. As a result, they aren't booking any more shows until things cool off. The Pistol's proprietor, Laura Frank, was passing out Japanese fans with admission, which I thought was a very nice touch.
When the first band, local art-punk outfit the Ssion (pronounced "shun"), started gearing up, the kids who had been outside began filing in, resplendent in their hipster pageantry of teased hair, tightly layered torn clothes, cool/uncool shoes, faces shining with sweat. The Ssion evidently lost a couple of members because the guitarist was playing bass and someone different was on drums and no one was on guitar. Singer Cody Cricheloe was in fine form, looking like a Depression-era hustler in a greasy straw fedora and Fu Manchu mustache, and co-singer Frank did her part, but it was mostly a slow, draggy performance that chose to play to the heat rather than fight it with sweat and hustle. It was OK, but definitely not the best Ssion show I've seen.
It seemed about an hour while the next band set up, which gave me and my running buddies -- whose true identities I will protect by naming them after the Nintendo Pro Wrestling characters Fighter Hayabusa and King Slender -- time to run to the well-stocked West Bottoms Chevron for a 12-pack of High Life cans. (The clerk was going to overcharge us, so Hayabusa straightened him out with a Back Brain Kick�.) When we got back, people were still outside, and we got heckled by some particularly trashy-looking hipsters walking across the street. One of them said something about Gangs of New York and asked why the King's teeth weren't filed. He responded with a resounding Back Breaker� that sent aftershocks all the way to Springfield. (OK, I'm getting carried away with the wrestler thing, but we did get made fun of for real.) Then, we were all summoned inside by a megaphone-wielding guy to hear the next band.
The Chromatics are fellow Portland(ers?)(ians?) and long-time road pals with Glass Candy. In addition to both being electroclashy and signed to Troubleman, the bands also share similar tastes in fashion, which seem to be based off disco album covers from the 1970s — Saturday Night Fever and the Bee Gees re-appropriated, toned down and sexed up for the coastal cool kids. Or maybe just Blondie. Also, both bands have hot female vocalists. The Chromatics brought a dark, epic, almost psychedelic sound into the Pistol that got some people dancing, some watching wide-eyed and me staring at the hot-as-demon-shit combo of brunette frontwoman Chelsea standing up and shaking and playing drums and guitarist and singer Kin Corn Carn (OK, I don't know his name, so I'm pulling the Pro Wrestling shit again) rocking the floor in chest-hair-exposing shirt and gold medallion. The show peaked out with some extended instrumental jams, climaxing with a buzzing, prurient cover of "Now I Wanna Be Your Dog," which always goes over well in Kansas City.
Then, it was Glass Candy's turn. I had worked up the courage to chat with lead singer Ida No at the merch table, which afforded me the opportunity to be a complete dork and her the chance to be really cool and super beautiful. My heart wouldn't slow down and I had some dancing to take care of, so me and King and Hayabusa weaved into the sweaty throng, the front line of which absolutely refused to give the band any space up front, which was great, considering all the shows you see week in, week out, where there's a virtual moat between band and audience. Ida arrived barefoot and began dancing waifishly as she belted out party calls in her low, smoky alto.
Then, she disappeared. The band continued playing, and she continued singing, and I continued dancing, but I couldn't figure out where she'd gone. Suddenly, a slender, bare leg, eye level and parallel to the floor, appeared in my peripheral vision. I looked, and there was Ida, traveling the hands of the crowd on her back, mic in hand and voice strong. I lifted my hands and passed her along in gentlemanly fashion — thigh, back, no touching of the inviolable regions — but afterwards, when she'd traveled on and returned to her feet, her halter-topped dress back in order, I felt like fainting. I was like the gap-toothed imbecile holding one side of the trampoline in The Big Lebowski, watching in boundless glee as he vaulted the topless woman into space off the surface of the mat (unfortunately, that scene's not on YouTube, so you'll have to watch the movie again). Craziest of all, Ida's like 35. You'd never think it. Did Madonna crowd surf at that age — hell, did she ever crowd surf? Fuck no. Hail, Ida.
The dance party that followed that opening orgasmic fluorish was the best I've been to ever with a live band. The crowd was so keyed in that, between songs, so much as an accidental cymbal tap from drummer Dusty Sparkles could get them to move in unison. (I should also give a shout-out to guitarist/keyboardist/producer Johnny Jewel who held things down and really made the music happen.) I moved to a spot behind, where there was an uncrowded expanse of floor between the band's setup and the back wall, and I danced with people I did not know, watching Chelsea hype the crowd, and it was beautiful. Ida went into the crowd once again, and I moved to help, sustaining a good portion of her weight on my forearm like the arm of a chair, and the show ended with her on the floor at our feet (or knees, as many of us dropped down), curled on her side, helpless and cut off from her band.
Ida got up without any help, smiled, and went to the merch table to begin selling records to her sweaty fans.