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October 11th, 2006 Byron Beck | Queer Window
 

Rock, Paper, Scissor Sisters

Lifiting queer rock music out of its gay k-hole.

     
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What the world needs now is more Scissor Sisters.

Well, not the world, just the United States. This pop-rock band, formed in '01 in NYC, is already huge overseas, especially in Great Britain—we're talkin' Robbie Williams and Kylie Minogue big. So big that they currently have the No. 1 album, single and download. But because their music, like the gay-friendly Minogue and Williams, is too queer for conservative (read: homophobic) U.S. of A. tastes, they've had trouble breaking into the big time, i.e., Billboard's Top 40—like the Pussycat Dolls or any other shit band that's currently on the charts.

But that's about to change. Last week they released Ta-Dah, which debuted at No. 19 on Billboard's top-album chart (their first album didn't reach the top 100). And they're already playing to sold-out crowds, like the one they faced last Wednesday at the Roseland, which danced its ass off in support of this hard-to-define group: part glam, part disco, part alt rock and all queer, despite members of the band actually being heterosexual.

"I'm going to die of fucking heatstroke," screamed Jake Shears, the Sisters' lead vocalist, before stripping down to a tiny, shiny pair of hot pants and ripping into a classic SS cut. The crowd was hot, too—a mix of fag hags, femmes and bears (they were out in force to worship Baby Daddy, the band's bassist and the closest thing bears have to a rock god). There were plenty of hot straight boys, too, a fact that did not go unnoticed by vocalist Ana Matronic, who's originally from Portland-friggin'-Oregon.

"Did all the hot men move here after I left?" the former Coffee People employee belted from the stage. For Ana the show was a walk down memory lane, which Shears, graciously, if somewhat impatiently, allowed. "This is the town where I realized I was a drag queen trapped in a woman's body," Ana spouted out, before regaling the audience of her days at the Paris Theatre, Mary's Club, the X-Ray Cafe and Satyricon, which she called "Syringe-con."

Her affection for her hometown peeps was evident in the blistering combo of songs such as "Take Your Mama," "Laura" and "Filthy/Gorgeous," which she dedicated to Portland and her queer counterpart, Shears. The love that Portland gave back was just as thick. The audience, in fact, was one of the most eclectic I've encountered outside a Pink Martini concert. It included lawyers, paramedics and 34-year-old Marcea Wiggins, a naturopath who is drawn to the Sistahs' music like polyester to a flame, much like the group of Burning Man-ers with which she surrounded herself. "Scissor Sisters is a super-dynamic blend of rock and pop music," said Dr. Wiggins. "But, most of all, it's smart music."

The good doctor is right. Reclaiming the queer rock crown, a title that's been up for grabs ever since Sir Elton John (with whom the band collaborated on their current album) took off his funny glasses and sobered up, the Scissor Sisters show you can be queer, sound like you're smart and still have fun (take that Melissa, k.d. and all you wimpy queer singer-songwriters) without giving up a good dance beat. Their music is soulful and joyful. And it's that goddamn important. Who knew one of queer rock music's saviors would be one of our very own?

 
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