Gossip / October 9, 2009 / New York
Gossip frontwoman Beth Ditto has many talents. Already a powerhouse singer, a budding fashion icon, a gay rights activist and a self-proclaimed "ham," Ditto added crisis management to her list of skills at Gossip's show at New York's Terminal 5 on Friday (Oct. 9).
Toward the end of the lively set, a fight erupted among the overheated hipster crowd, and it was Beth Ditto to the rescue. "Just say you're sorry," said Ditto as she flung her microphone from the stage and into the hands of the male offenders. Even after a little help from Ditto, the two overzealous men delivered feigned apologies. As the fired-up crowd started booing, it was clear that the fans did not accept their apology. Unfortunately for the two men, neither did Ditto.
"All you had to do was apologize," reasoned Ditto in her sweet southern drawl. "If you can't apologize then get out." After the pair were escorted out of the venue by security, Ditto got back to what she was there for: performing.
Following two opening acts, Gossip's set began late into the night with drummer Hannah Blilie holding a steady beat while the screams and chants of the fans grew stronger. Blilie was then joined on stage by guitarist Brace Paine, who started strumming the opening chords to "Dimestore Diamond," the opening track off the band's newest album, "Music for Men." A few moments later, the crowd roared when they heard Ditto's voice, yet the frontwoman didn't not appear onstage until a minute into the song.
With fire-red hair and a little, shimmering black dress, the girl from a small town in Arkansas knows how to make an explosive entrance. With as much energy as a five-member boy-band, Ditto danced across the stage, shaking her hips, waving her arms, and beating her feet into the stage like a punk-rock preacher addressing her uncontrollable rock-n-roll choir.
After heating up the crowd, Ditto powered through the clubby number, "Pop Goes the World." Blilie's thunderous drumming and Paine's choppy riffs combined with Ditto's soulful for a heavy melodic punch. "Love Long Distance," found Paine swapping his guitar for the electric keys.
While most of the electro-pop set included music from the new album, Gossip also worked their way through older tunes, including "Listen Up!" and "Yr Mangled Heart" from the 2006 indie hit, "Standing in the Way of Control." The band even slammed through disco-punk favorites, "Fire/Sign" and "Yesterday's News," from their 2003 second album "Movement."
The trio ended the performance with their current single, "Heavy Cross." Hundreds of screaming fans echoed Ditto's violent call to arms in a display of utter mania.
For the encore, Ditto covered Tina Turner's classic "What's Love Got to Do With It," but not before addressing the crowd. "Please understand that we don't believe in hate," said Ditto to a chorus of cheers. "I believe in mutual respect."
The biggest highlight of the night, and probably Ditto's most dangerous feat, happened during Gossip's encore performance of "Standing in the Way of Control." During the high-tempo anthem, Ditto unexpectedly decided to join the crowd. As the singer made her way from the front of the venue to the back, hundreds of fans pushed and shoved their way toward her.
But Ditto made her way back to the front of the venue without missing note. After returning to the stage, she encouraged the bruised and battered audience to "reclaim a very queer song and sing along" before leading hundreds of fans into an a capella rendition of Queen's classic, "We Are the Champions."
Openers included Brooklyn-based band, Apache Beat. Lead singer, Ilirjana Alushaj, huskily grumbled her way through the band's short set, but the melodic song, "Another Day," was a definite crowd pleaser. Even though the heavy riffs often overpowered Alushaj's vocals, her unique showmanship made a positive difference; especially during her multiple slinky encounters with the microphone cord.
MEN, the JD Samson (previously of Le Tigre) fronted band, took the stage next. The oddly dressed trio warmed up the eager crowd with costumes, cardboard props and electronic beats. Armed with a computer and with a cardboard house atop her head, Samson playfully announced, "This song is about making gay babies," before performing the electronic number, "Credit Card Babie$."
Here is Gossip's setlist:
"Pop Goes The World"
"Don't (Make Waves)"
"Your Mangled Heart"
"Men In Love"
"Love Long Distance"
"Four Letter Word"
"What's Love Got To Do With It"
"Standing In The Way Of Control"
"We Are The Champions"