Review: CSS and MEN at the 9:30 Club

Posted by Doug Rule
October 27, 2011 10:51 AM |

At the end of its concert at the 9:30 Club on Monday night, Oct. 24, the Brazilian dance-rock band CSS gave a Beastie Boys-esque rap-chant, wishing the crowd well and hoping they got their money’s worth.

Did they ever: The lead singer, who goes by the name of Lovefoxx, saw to that all her own. Throughout the show, she both rapped and sung, mostly in fluent English but a few lyrics in her native Portuguese. She accentuated her looks by dressing up and down, including wearing a short-bobbed black wig until the very last number, an affirming punk-rock song about taking pride in how you look no matter what the outside world says. And with that, she revealed her inner-Debbie Harry, uncovering shoulder-length blonde locks.

Lovefoxx also did the splits at the end of several songs, she started to limbo at one point, she bodysurfed, she even jumped down into the crowd and acted like an awestruck concertgoer -- “I know that girl!,” she said, pointing to a fellow band member.

Her energy could not be contained.

No wonder the six-piece band with several queer members has such a die-hard fan base. They’re full-on amusing at every turn, right down to the band’s name: CSS stands for Cansei de Ser Sexy, which is the Portuguese translation of a 2003 quote attributed to Beyonce, saying she’s “tired of being sexy.”

 Oh yes, they did.

At the 9:30 Club, for probably its sixth or seventh visit in the past few years -- Lovefoxx has lost count -- the band plowed through its repertoire of tunes with infectious rhythms and cute melodies. Some of the tunes were a bit wild, even weird -- but they never ceased to be entertaining. For one song, they even trotted out a cowbell on a special stand, which one female member proceeded to play in the most dramatic of fashion. All praise the cowbell.

CSS has tapped a local drag queen on its current tour to kick off the party. In D.C., they selected Shea Van Horn, or really his drag alter-ego Summer Camp. Summer Camp told the crowd she wrote the book. No one dared deny.

Sharing the bill with CSS was MEN, led by JD Samson, who used to be in the feminist dance punk trio Le Tigre.

“We should always tour with them for the rest of our lives. We love them,” Lovefoxx effused about MEN. The crowd wasn’t quite as into MEN, but the explicitly feminist and queer trio of two women and one man soldiered on anyway. They won over all of those who can appreciate some liberal politicking -- they gave a shout-out to Occupy DC -- along with good, even great, music and music-playing, with tunes steeped in early ‘80s synth-pop. Samson had as much energy as Lovefoxx, giving a kick-boxer move at a couple turns and constantly air-playing the beat and the guitar riff of her cohorts. And wow, those guitar riffs: Michael O’Neill is a master bassist.

MEN even performed several dance songs in a continuous loop, as if it were a party night at the 9:30 Club with a DJ.

But even without a DJ, it was most definitely a party. Monday night never felt so good.

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