Get SF Weekly Newsletters

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Perfect Pussy Brings Noisy Catharsis to Rickshaw Stop, 5/26/14

Posted By on Tue, May 27, 2014 at 10:32 AM

click to enlarge Perfect Pussy at Rickshaw Stop last night. Photos by the author.
  • Perfect Pussy at Rickshaw Stop last night. Photos by the author.

By GABE MELINE

Perfect Pussy

Sunday, May 26, 2014

Rickshaw Stop

Better than: Being forced to read BroTips.com.

Meredith Graves, the lead singer of Perfect Pussy, dropped her backpack on the side of the stage, draped her sweater over it, and was headed to the microphone when a bearded guy in a baseball cap and hoodie stopped her.

"Do you sing?" the guy asked.

"Sometimes," Graves said. "Not always."

The guy persisted. "But you're about to."

Graves looked sideways, smiled, and shrugged it off. "Depends on your definition of 'singing,'" she quipped, walking away.

It was a Memorial Day weekend that started with the viral resurrection of the post "Stop Saying 'I Have a Boyfriend,'" followed by the murder of six in Isla Vista at the hands of a "men's rights" asshole, followed by even more assholes chiming in on how men should feel when women reject their advances (see: BroTips, Rap Genius), all underscored by the sobering stories of daily fear and harassment collected under the #YesAllWomen hashtag.

In the course of a short, furiously loud set, and offstage before and after, Graves seemed to want to put the whole goddamn events of the weekend behind. More than a few female friends of mine opted to stay inside their houses for a few days after the shooting. Graves could have stayed backstage the whole night; instead, she chatted with guys at the bar, signed copies of Perfect Pussy's super-limited blood-streaked box set for record collector nerds, told tour stories out on the sidewalk and generally acted as if, in the words of her own lyrics repeated endlessly in Say Yes To Love's locked groove, everything is fine.

I mention all this because of a conversation I overheard last night at the Rickshaw Stop that essentially could be distilled to "Oh My God, I Wonder What Meredith Is Going To Say About The UCSB Shootings?!" But the greatest art tends to put issues in a new context without directly commenting on them, and Perfect Pussy's set was a perfect example. Reflecting the chaos of the weekend, the band pummeled the hell out of all sense of musical logic, along with the audience's eardrums, with Graves at the center of it all -- screaming, writhing, swirling, owning it, and basically not letting the terrorists win. She spoke nothing of the shooting, and expecting her to would be just as presumptive as expecting a woman to respond to a guy's advances.

click to enlarge PerfectPussy2.jpg

Since the last time they played the Bay Area, at a house party in Oakland, Perfect Pussy has added fifth member Shaun Sutkus on keyboard/electronics/noise generator -- not that any additional noise was needed. I doubt anyone could make out a single word of Graves' lyrics, which only enhances the enigma of her brilliant, personal writing, and in fact, I'd wager only a select few could identify distinct, separate songs. The set was a teetering barrage without a sound check, only a request to the soundman from Graves before the first song to "make it as loud and horrible as possible."

The result, as you can guess, was sheer rapture. Around the large pit and occasional stagedive, most in the crowd simply swayed and bowed repeatedly toward the altar of transcendent catharsis. Cacophony never felt so good, led by volume and gyration. It wasn't just Graves that was having fun; by the set's end, guitarist Ray McAndrew was carried off the stage by piggyback, high-fiving random strangers. Strange oscillations of noise continued to pour out of Sutkus' amplifier. The crowd slowly dispersed.

"Thanks for putting up with that," Graves said into the microphone.

Critic's Notebook

Lopsided Lineup: Local band Wild Moth held the audience's attention with their tight, fuzzed-out 1990s-drenched sound, but headliners Pottymouth didn't fare so well -- a sizable chunk of people left after Perfect Pussy, who really should have played last.

This Is Not a Test: Worth 10 minutes of anyone's time is this fantastic, in-depth conversation between Meredith Graves and Tobi Vail of Bikini Kill about feminism, fashion, relationships, and dealing with sexist bias in the punk scene.

-- @Gmeline


  • Pin It

Tags: , ,

About The Author

SF Weekly

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Popular Stories

  1. Most Popular Stories
  2. Stories You Missed

Like us on Facebook

Slideshows

  • Fear FestEvil 2015
    Calibree Photography brings back photos from Fear FestEvil 2015 at Rockbar Theater in San Jose on Friday, April 11. Performances included freak shows, and bands: Ghoul, Orchid, and High On Fire.
  • Cherry Blossom Festival @ Japantown
    Beth LaBerge brings back photos from the 2015 Cherry Blossom Festival. Events continue next weekend including the parade on April 19.