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Gig review
Ok, now stick with me on this one. Traditionally Brazil has been known for its football, and Northern Ireland has been more renowned for its music, with the odd exception to the rule (Bebel Gilberto and George Best as respective examples). This has given rise to two things - the proliferation of samba soccer stars in the top-echelons of European football and the ironic Windsor Park chant of �We're not Brazil, we're Northern Ireland�.

Ok, you still with me? Now in recent times there has been a rise in the fortunes of Northern Irish football, and now, in some sort of cosmic karmic re-alignment type thing there must be a rise in Brazilian music, which is where CSS come in. Eschewing the traditional Brazilian pastimes of sunbathing, samba and creating some of the most mind-wrecking alcoholic beverages used outside the chemical industry, CSS have made a most European, or at least North American sounding record, which they are presenting for our delectation this evening

Before our Caipirinhas though, we've got to have a throat-wetter, or two as the case is this evening. A nice drop of Scotch first of all. The 1990s are, despite what the name may suggest, not in thrall to the previous decade. Instead they draw inspiration from the late 1970s (perhaps there is a band called The 1970s somewhere?). It's all Television (ask your dad), Richard Hell (ask your dad or probably your slightly eccentric uncle), and a dash of The Clash to round off the cocktail.

And this may be the problem for these very likeable chaps. If they manage to shake off the Franz Ferdinand connection (two of them used to be in a band etc. it's not relevant, so I'll not go on about it), then it does have to be asked if they can stand on their own merits. The songs are good enough, �Will You Be My Friend?' and �Substitution' are great art-rock songs, but they're maybe a little too close to the source material to pass on too much credit.

Our second offering is The Rogers Sisters. They're a tight little three-piece doing drone-rock - the type of stuff that Jason Pierce (Spaceman 3, Spiritualized) does so well. Other influences or similar stuff is out there by the likes of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club (their first couple of albums anyway), The Early Years, and Archie Bronson Outfit. It's very different to what has come before, and maybe takes a bit of the audience by surprise, and is probably unlikely to have the mass appeal of the other bands on the bill but I like it.

Our headliners are CSS. A quick description - a six-piece (with 5 women) of quite unhinged Brazilians doing sleazy electro-indie dance. Opening up with an attempt to get the crowd doing the refrain of �Zombie Nation' is unusual, but will seem relatively sane by the end of the night.

The proper start is the first track on their album (go out and buy this CSS - Cansei De Ser Sexy), the ironically titled �CSS Suxxx.' This is one thing they definitely do not do. They're tight, with great tunes, blessed with a liberal attitude towards the traditional confines of the stage, and in Lovefoxxx, have a front-woman in the Karen O mould of charismatic female rockstars. She refuses to be held back, using the speakers as a climbing frame and crowd-surfing when the opportunity presents itself. She's joined by her guitarists in the speaker climbing (at one point conducting a synchronised rendition of the macarena dance with one of them while the two of them are balancing on the speakers), but in between songs is charm itself. English is, of course, the second language for this band, and this may explain the dodgy spelling and the slightly strange lyrics, but it's part of their charm.

Highlights of the set are undoubtedly singles �Alala' which once heard will drill its way into your mind, and �Let's Make Love And Listen To Death From Above', but live the whole album works even better than it does on record. �Artbitch' is wonderful and �Meeting Paris Hilton' is destined to be one of the crowd sing-a-longs of recent times. If there is a criticism, it is that the show falls a little flat near the end as we get songs in Portugese, and tracks that we're unfamiliar with. But for the first three-quarters this is one of the gigs of the year.


William Johnston.
Photos by Keith Wilson.

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Gig Details
Venue: Speakeasy
Location: Queens University, Belfast
Date: 5/11/2006


Line Up
CSS, The Rogers Sisters, The 1990s

Related Links
+ Keith Wilson Photography