Also in this issue:
Super Ego Must the French rule everything? Is Justice revenge for "freedom fries"?
Anyone who’s recently squeezed themselves into a sliced-up silver Lycra T-shirt, pushed down a pair of Day-Glo Cazals, baby-oiled their coke-spoon anklet charms, and hit the city’s glitzier underground dance floors in the past year knows that the hardcore electro sound of Paris’s laptops lahptoops? is everywhere they wanna be. So yeah, this shout-out to the trenchant trend is late, and the French are already being usurped by English, Aussie, and American glam-tech innovators. But I’ve got hungry drag queens at home to feed. Mama can’t afford no glittery off-the-shoulder neon silk-screen slip dry-cleaning bills.
Also, it’s taken a while for the scene to coalesce into something tangible, nightlifewise. "Electro" has always been a catch-all as long as it emanates from adorably entangled circuitry, the genre’s sound swings wildly from lowdown industrial grind to straight-up booty smack, vocoded howl to shuddering fwump to skittery blizzard of blips. It took French duo Justice, along with a slew of other big-name like-mindeds like MSTRKRFT and Simian Mobile Disco, to crystallize some of electro’s recent, disparate past amped-up electroclash guitars, nu-rave airhorn screech, Philly and Baltimore cybernetic cartoon sexuality, bubbly London champagne rave, and triple-filtered Daft Punk euro strip-down into the rock-candy party sound still blowing out woofers all over town, launching a genuine style. At first dismissed as mere Daft Punk knockoffs, these earnest Ableton addicts have transformed electro into this house generation’s gleaming hair metal, complete with fussy headbands, flashing tits, and on occasion, what my bf Hunky Beau terms "the most well-scrubbed mosh pits ever."
The scene is called banger as in Ed Banger, Justice’s Paris-based label. The sound? Warped arena rock grandeur ripped asunder by fuzzy needles, taut bass arpeggios, pounding 808s with cymbal-crash breakdowns (they’re back!), dirty childlike vocals, and anarchic Prodigy posing to cover your ears, discriminating queens pop-rave 2 Unlimited keyboards. Banger kids arrive stripped of quotation marks (excessive goofy accessorizing and ironic retro bombast are out), fronting the tight sheen of perfect online shopping technique, 24-inch waists, Rockstar and rye on tap, wanton pantomimed sex, and a tang of American Apparel ennui. ("I’m on the club soda diet," a model confided matter-of-factly outside one bangin’ banger club. "I need to go to the bathroom and meditate for a minute before I pass out.") If all this sounds more like "da club" then the club, well, that’s the delicious line of tension bangers like to play against.
Banger style has even given rise, in Paris at least, to a dance craze (also back!) called tecktonik. Have you seen this shit? It’s electroclash break dancing a splash of rave liquid by way of circuit fantwirling, coupled with random Adderall withdrawal jerks. "Tecktonik" is now a brand-name T-shirt and a haircut, of course.
The above may look iffy on paper, but it works there’s a blinding energy to the scene, and I’m held positively rapt by some local bangers. My next column will feature a few, as well as some young upstarts taking the bang into fidgety new directions. Let’s riot.