New York

Live: Hermaphrodite Plays Guitar Five Times, Has Sex With Himself (Herself)



Guess which one is a convicted murderer

The Ark
December 1
Mercury Lounge

Oh boy another ironic-not-ironic glamrock cockrock “Darkness all over again, fuck this shit” band outta Sweden — the dope boys are gonna go nuts.

A few things though. In the vein of this isn’t irony, this isn’t rock&roll, The Ark are actually talking to the kids. The mostly 20something crowd who came knows glam only as a Halloween costume, Queen from Wayne’s World. They know arena rock in the context of stadium hot dog stands, Europe from Gob sinking the Bluth yacht. Shit to laugh at, not to laugh with.

So seeing something like the The Ark absolutely rip it — expertly played guitar solos, gorgeous lead vox and backup harmonies, no shortage of struck poses and eyeliner and leather jackets with metal acne — well it’s nice to be won over sometimes, for rill not for shrill. “Here’s a song about you — it’s called ‘Rock City Wankers’!” the lead Ark shouted in the Swedish singsong Engwish that’s unfairly become a cliche (not like they can do anything about it). For an hour then he shook his pelvis, lanked himself around with a limberness that shamed the boys and the girls alike.

Which is why the whole time I kept thinking Hedwig. And I don’t throw that around any time I see some skinny sexually curious dude with a microphone — I take this shit seriously. Sure the lead Ark is (a) eminently sexual, (b) so seductive, (c) utterly sexless, (d) totally grotesque all at once. “One day I will be the father of a son — Hallelujah!” he tones to a song of probably the same name, his alto-to-falsetto hermaphrodesia pungent, and nobody knew how to process it exactly — we were all overpowered, confused. But whatever — so too Bowie and all those other jokers.

Really, the Hedwig factor comes in first via the singsong crowdworking English (which you’re supposed to get out of a good Hedwig), second via the band’s unpretentious and often hilarious jabs at college dorm moral/philosophical questions — free will, death, identity. I’m not even kidding. For “Deliver Us From Free Will,” the lead Ark gets on bended knee and fakes a prayer, really driving home the Our Father poke (free will sounds like e-vil, dig; the tie goes beyond the rhyme too). But then, as if to say, “Yes our prayers have been answered,” the band gets on this clicky dance outro that blatantly borrows from Kylie’s “Can’t You Get Out Of My Head” — sorry, I just love shit like this, that rare moment when smarts coexist with jams without compromise. From the glossy mag peanut gallery, the Ark are gonna get their Darkness comparisons. But whatever, they’re gonna get the Darkness to come to their shows too — happened last night, so there.

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