All words: Farrah Skeiky — All photos: Katherine Gaines
Gossip are about power. Often times bands embody a specific feeling or mindset, and while some bands are the epitome of sadness, Gossip are power incarnate.
And I’m not just talking about Beth Ditto here– of course she’s a phenomenal woman, singer, and performer. She’s a southern belle with none of the manners and all of the heart. But the entire band, from Nathan Howdeshell on guitar who also opened with Bonnie Montgomery, to Hannah Blilie on drums, have such confidence in themselves that the pressure deflects, that there is no need for flashy stage antics or dressing to impress. When you have an impresario like Beth, or more importantly, when you have songs that speak so loudly, do you really need it?
The notion that anger is an unrefined and primitive version of sadness is bullshit. Anger is completely valid, and what you do decide to pour your anger into is just as important. Gossip get that more than any non-punk yet punk influenced act in music right now, and somehow make anger catchy.
Somewhere in the first three songs, I hear misplaced lyrics: “That girl thinks she’s the queen of the neighborhood/ I got news for you, SHE IS!” And Beth doesn’t stop at flirting with the riot grrrls, but dips into “Psycho Killer” as well. The entire night is a fusion of a driving dance punk that Gossip have cultivated over thirteen years, and shout outs to major influences. This is one of the many things that makes the band great: for many many gay teens and riot grrrls in the room, Beth Ditto is a hero. How do you respond when your hero is paying tribute to their own hero? Apparently, you dance harder, sing louder, and try your best not to let your heart to burst.
Beth has a lot to say. The balcony doesn’t seem to be into it, and she could care less. She gets comfortable between songs, talking and burping at fans, taking off her shoes, and settling into the first stop on this U.S. tour. But comfort doesn’t mean laziness by any means. The energy is constantly high, almost intimidating, for the duration of the set, keeping us waiting for “Heavy Cross” until the end of the set, and “Standing In The Way of Control” as the closing tune. Every song off A Joyful Noise kept us bouncing on the soles of our feet (even the ones dedicated to Lil’ Wayne). I’m having difficulty recalling the last time I’ve seen 930 club so lively at a show– probably because this was the first show I’ve been to in a long time where a ton of guys were encouraging me to “dance your heart out, honey, you’ve got it in you! I see you with that red lipstick and that hair! You better work!”
A crowd this supportive of some random girl they’ve never met was even more supportive of the opening acts too: Bonnie Montgomery, a songstress who played the hell out of some Johnny Cash songs and is so painfully close to bringing an identical energy to her own songs that I’m rooting for her to get there; and Magic Mouth, a dazzling explosion of soul (with extra dazzle and patriotic jumpsuit to boot) who brought the crowd to elation and desperation over the course of a brief set. Even those who talked through the openers would cheer wildly at the end of each song, and again, encouraging yells of “You better work!” echoed around the room.
At this point, I ask you- who else can cover both “What’s Love Got to Do With It?” and “Smells Like Teen Spirit” in a single encore? And intwine said covers into their own songs so seamlessly?
Anger is an effective music tool because it’s probably more relatable than any other emotion; more relatable than being in love or being depressed, because we understand anger before anything else. Maybe our anger isn’t Beth Ditto’s anger. Our gripes may not be her gripes. But when a powerful woman is pouring her anger into songs that aren’t always about breakups or heartache and in turn transforming that energy into something unifying and tangible, we are all jumping, we are all yelling out the words, we are all feeling the same thing in the same room, optimistic that we can conquer the things that make us angry.