Peer pressure is the key to any good party. “Don’t leave, don’t leave,” Miss Pussycat called out from the stage Friday night at New Parish, not so much begging or pleading, but in a tone that suggested the couple heading towards the door with their coats were crazy.
The pair turned, torn, and together mouthed something inaudible about the time, or BART, or something. “Maybe Sean could give you a ride,” Miss Pussycat said, seemingly picking a name at random and pointed out into the audience, adding with a deceptively innocent smile, “...wherever you’re going, and then you’ll become best friends.”
Whether convinced or just shamed, the two walked back into the crowd, Miss Pussycat gave a cheer, and the Leslie speaker connected to Qunitron’s organ began to spin up as he launched into the frenzied warble “Banana Beat.”
Essentially in their own genre of swamp boogie, the New Orleans-based Quintron and Miss Pussycat puts on what is basically more like a dance party than a conventional show. Sure, there’s a fair amount of spectacle. It opens with Miss Pussycat’s puppet show, a sort of DIY La Voyage dans la lune that’s enjoyable if you like the aesthetic of Pee-wee’s Playhouse and watching Adult Swim cartoons in a smoked-out stupor.
When it comes to playing music, Quintron always has something going on, using a number or inventions (like his light-operated drum machine) that no one else really does (or understands).
The closest comparison might by the B-52s. Partly because of the campy silliness, partly because of the style, and partly because the combined over-the-top male and female vocals. But mainly it’s the video for “Love Shack” that used to play on VH1 every other commercial break in the early '90s. The one where everybody is strange, fun, and getting down. The one where they are drinking everything in sight, including the bath tub water. Yeah, it’s a similar kind of atmosphere at the Quintron and Miss Pussycat show.
In addition to crowd control and vocal duties, Miss Pussycat focuses her energy on stage by playing a pair of carefully accessorized maracas. Shaking them mostly, but occasionally tossing one into the air and catching it.
As the show went on, I was concerned by the increasing number of times she dropped them onto the floor. Until I factored in that, considering how many shots she had taken with members of the audience (including one whose shirt read “fuck you YOU fuckin’ fuck – Bourbon St., New Orleans”), she was doing just fine.
Compared to Quintron and Miss Pussycat, Dent May gave a mild performance, pulling almost entirely from his latest, Do Things and the “Eastover Wives” single. (As someone that never caught him live before, I’d hoped to hear a bit from his last album, although he did play “Meet Me in the Garden.”) The live show doesn’t quite have the understated suave playfulness of May’s records, although there’s a sense that a muted energy is still emerging.
At his best, the slow R&B ballad “Do Things” gave off an Enchantment Under the Sea feel, giving a couple in the audience a chance to slow dance. Moves like jumping off the kick drum at the very end of the set, however, were a bit too calculated.