Canned Huntingby Roger Young / 23.11.2009
Lets just get some things out of the way. I went to the We-Are-Awesome, A Store, Adidas launch thing, it was full of hip people in clothes, there was a video thing about shoes, everyone was having a great time, especially the people in the back bar bitching about not being able to get drinks fast enough in the main room. It’s so hip to have something to bitch about. Anyway, whatev’s. Lets talk about Gazelle.
Maybe I just don’t get it, but I was never a fan of people shouting over House music. Dressing it up in “pastiche” doesn’t make it anymore appealing. But they had nice lights! And super “traditional” dancers! Wow! Like Groundbreaking! And real musicians! That you couldn’t hear over the repetitive beats issuing forth from the space cowboy’s laptop! Gazelle are all about the exclamation mark. Everything that they present they give importance by means of a superficial flourish. And even I cannot deny that these flourishes look pretty impressive.
Lots of smoke and strobe-ing lights, Xander in a gold lamé suit, fake fur hat, big glasses and teeth steps out of the swirls. The beat kicks in and he’s joined by a bass player who is not trying to channel Bootsy Collins as much as trying to look like him, the aforementioned guy in the silver spray painted welders helmet and a guy on djembe. And Sean Ou Tim on drums. Sean Ou Tim on drums, suddenly my attention is piqued; The last time I saw Gazelle live it was just Xander, the djembe and the spray painted helmet guy with laptop and no smoke machine, maybe this Gazelle chap has upped his game.
But by song two, it was becoming apparent that we would never be able to hear either the drums or the bass over the house beats coming from the laptop guys general direction. The additions of a guy jumping around doing the “witchdoctor” dance looking like a patronizing caricatures from a late 30’s Hollywood safari movie, the back up singers that are hardly audible, all of the other players on this stage are props, mere signifiers behind Xanders’ strutting and fretting, his sound and fury.
I get that Gazelle are playing with stereotypes, that they’re a pastiche band, that they’re theater, or any of the number of excuses people put forward to defend them but the bodybuilder looking guy down front with the mullet and the trucker probably doesn’t care about these things, because he doesn’t need excuses, he’s totally into it, looking deranged and air fisting (the more aggressive cousin of the air punch) the rows in front of the stage look like a rave in 1998 and it works to Gazelle’s advantage that their songs are not distinguishable from each other, for all their performance the only thing it seems that the audience wants is the house music. The genius of Gazelle is that those who don’t like the music can always fall back on the “But don’t you get what he’s trying to do, intellectually?” stance.
I have been pondering one of Gazelles lyrics “Super Sonic Laser Beam”. Going on the presumption that in this case “Super Sonic” refers to the point a physical object is propelled beyond the sound barrier I can only wonder what kind of Laser beam this would be? A beam of light focused to the point that it becomes physical but slowed to the point that it becomes invisible (light not traveling at the speed of light is no longer light). For all the artifice that Gazelle heap on their music, it remains music that does not bear too much examining.
There is a woman on crutches dancing in front of me enthusiastically, she looks really into it, when I see her in the queue for the bar later, I say “So you really enjoy them, huh?” “Nah”, she says, “But it’s the kinda music you can dance to if you only have the use of one leg”.
All images © and courtesy We-Are-Awesome.