DJ Hostettler

Gospel Gossip @ Cactus Club

By - Sep 7th, 2010 10:04 pm

Image of Gospel Gossip totally screen-capped from Jack Packard’s video below

We’ve given a lot of love to Gospel Gossip over the years here at Fan-Belt, and for good reason—they’re quite possibly the most enthralling shoegazers that happen to traverse through our fair city on a regular basis, as last Saturday’s Cactus Club show once again demonstrated.

First, a brief nearly-non-sequitur: when I was in high school, I saw KISS play at the Brown County Arena in Green Bay on their Hot in the Shade tour (the one where their big hit was “Forever,” the schmaltzy power ballad co-written by Michael Bolton, a collaboration that would have led most members of the KISS Army to go AWOL had they not been permanently brainwashed during the Creatures of the Night period, as the ending of the video for “I Love it Loud” clearly demonstrates). During Eric Carr’s drum solo, I felt a distinct *pop* in my unprotected right ear, and ever since, it has been more sensitive to high frequencies and volume than the left. In the years since, depending on a show’s volume, I’ll find myself throwing an earplug into the right canal before opting for both ears, as historically my left ear has been able to take it (no, really—I had them tested a few years ago and I had a clean bill of health over there).

But when I walked into the Cactus’ band room at the beginning of Gospel Gossip’s set on Saturday, I made sure both ears were plugged full, because this band is loud. Like, dinosaur-rape loud. Like, I can’t get away from rape metaphors when discussing their volume loud. And dammit, that’s what shoegaze should be—what’s the point of all those waves of feedback and effects if they’re not knocking the audience on its collective ass? Gospel Gossip pack the volume of arena-level KISS (albeit KISS when they were wearing concealer instead of greasepaint) into a tiny club, and that can get downright harmful. Yay.

But what really makes Gospel Gossip a can’t-miss live act is the fact that these shoegazers do nothing of the sort. Guitarist/singer Sarah Nienaber thrashes like she’s channeling the spirit of Cobain (a rote comparison except that it’s probably the most accurate), a cherub-faced angel/demon hybrid like Genesis from the Preacher comic book, throwing time-stopping noise at the audience and forcing them into acquiescence. Look, she fucking rocks, ok? Meanwhile, the rhythm section somehow holds everything in place, despite drummer Oliver Moltaji nearly getting drowned out by the layers (in fact, if I have one criticism of Gospel Gossip, it’s that dude needs to lay into his snare harder, or put it through an amp, lest it be lost. But as Jake from Brief Candles [who also brought it on Saturday in their opening slot] pointed out, that’s just me being nitpicky). Anyway, why keep layering flowery prose when I can just let y’all see for yourselves what happened? Jack Packard and his omnipresent camera captured the action.

While Gospel Gossip delivered a more unhinged take on the genre, fellow volume-lords Asobi Seksu delivered a more restrained, dreamier, but equally loud take on layered noise-pop. Lead vocalist/keyboardist Yuki Chikudate is quite the contrast to GG’s Nienaber, holding court behind her stationary synth while the rest of the band take care of the rocking out. Still, they more than held their own after having the bar raised by one of Minneapolis’ finest. Meanwhile, Milwaukee’s own aforementioned Brief Candles showed once again why they’re one of the city’s most consistent bands, while tantalizingly dropping a few new tunes (to my ears, anyway) that may be on their new album…not that any of us would know because IT’S TAKING FOREVER TO COME OUT. Come on, guys!

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