Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Hot Hot Heat, Louis XIV

Meme Me Meme Me
Neumo's, Seattle, WA

How can your average person tell the difference between a meme and a well-funded marketing campaign? When you suddenly hear about a band from a bunch of disparate sources, does that constitute a meme, or is it just a promoter doing his or her job? And for that matter, can a major label act ever claim memedom, particularly when their success is tied to someone's year-end review? I think you have to back up and consider the genre of a band like Louis XIV to figure out why they are suddenly so hot with only one 6-song EP to their name. The meme they are replicating is the one started by The White Stripes and The Vines and The Hives; maybe Louis XIV is simply riding that wave and capitalizing on the fact that they don't start with The.

The floor of Neumo's is packed with teenagers and the balcony is packed with ticket winners. Before the show begins there is talk of rugby formals and dating incidents and strategies for getting alcohol. Many sport carefully-selected band t-shirts (though I am thrown off-decade seeing a gal wearing a Violent Femmes shirt with She-Bop earrings - wasn't that MY outfit?), girls scream when they see their friends, and guys peek out from behind rockstar bangs. The number of early arrivals make me think that most of the crowd is here for Louis XIV and not Hot Hot Heat, but it turns out that it's pretty even if you consider the Venn-diagram cross-over.

I so need to write a handbook for up & coming rockstars. The guys from Louis XIV saunter on stage like they are doing an equipment check rather than getting ready to rock out. It takes Jason Hill practically the whole set to warm up and look like the oversexed lead singer that he aspires to be. OH - and they don't address the audience or even SAY HELLO for the ENTIRE SHOW. This is just unacceptable. Audiences know that buying the albums gives the band a reason to tour in the first place, and that touring is the only thing that funds the band's drug and alcohol habit. We should be thanked for that.

With any luck the boys from Louis XIV are offstage watching Hot Hot Heat's set. Strong entrance: check. Rock hair: check (afro on singer Steve Bays makes Leo Sayer's look sad). Rock clothing: check. Crowd singing: check (I am so pleased to see that there are at least 150 people in this room who know every single word to Make Up the Breakdown, as do I). Band acknowledgement of audience: check (Bays lavishes love on Seattle, thanks his audience, and leans down during songs so the girls can pet his hair. His hair is astonishing, really.)

Aside from the fact that Neumo's is FUH-REEZING, nixing the previously sound leave-coat-in-car-run-to-sweaty-club logic employed by many teens here, it encourages everyone to dance even harder, to jump even higher. After a string of shows standing at a safe distance from other members of the sea of immobility, it is refreshing to finally see a show that makes me realize - Hey! This floor is kinda bouncy!

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