How awesome are Made Out of Babies?
I was really looking forward to this show (Friday April 13 at the Rock and Roll Hotel), and it seemed pretty appropriate to show up totally drunk with my totally drunk friends, ready to rock out. Made Out of Babies did not disappoint. We got there pretty much right on time to see the crazy noise extravaganza, difficult to describe, and impossible to forget.
It was not a particularly crowded night so we meandered to the front of the crowd, watching the band get ready to perform. We were somewhat concerned that the singer herself might have been a little too drunk to pull off a good show, but it turned out to be perfect. They played a great set, and were an interesting band. I can’t remember what songs they played, but the individual songs are not that memorable in this particular ouevre — the point is the heady atmosphere and the adrenaline rush of their screamy, metal-esque rock.
I have seen so many bands through the years that I often become jaded, but M.O.O.B. burst through the cynicism. And even more surprising, the singer (I’ll call her “Julie” because one of the albums lists her name as “Julie Xmas” though I am not sure if that is her real name) was so charismatic, wandering around stage, wrapped in microphone chords, screaming her lungs out, that I hardly paid any attention to the band. This was weird because normally I try to watch the band, especially guitarists, following along to see what they’re playing, what effects and techniques they use, etc. At this show, though, it was the singer, not the song, that made the music move along.
The band was so great and so much fun that I had no energy left to care about Don Caballero, the headliner. I watched them but found them kind of tiresome. I have seen lots of bands before that play the math rock equally well, and though I realize that Don Cab were pioneers in the field (I still have a dubbed tape of one of their albums from like 1996), they didn’t have any of the magnetism of Made Out of Babies’ Julie, who, by the time Don Cab played, was in the crowd and under full assault from me and my inebriated friends.
She turned out to be pretty friendly, or at least that is how I remember her, but there are some alternative hypotheses, namely:
1. We were so drunk that our memories are totally warped, and she actually was trying hard not to offend us lest we turn out to be psychotic stalkers;
2. Or, the tedium of life on the road just made her happy to have anybody new to talk to;
3. Or, she was also so drunk that we all shared in the camaraderie of alcohol-fueled delirium;
My guess is that the third option is the most true, but these photos of the night taken by my friend Yulia would seem to point towards option one. She seems to be thinking, “who are these crazy people, and how can I keep them away from me?”
Though I can’t entirely trust my memories of the night, I seem to remember chatting with “Julie” about the band, and about the Rock and Roll Hotel, and the show. She said that she was really happy with the show, though again, she might have just been humoring the creepy drunk super-fan. And I swear at one point, when I offered to buy drinks for her and the band, she declined and offered me a sip of what she was already drinking. Sniffing it hesitantly, I was like, “what is this? cough syrup?” And she was like, “just try it.” And it totally was like Robituson or something. I truly believe she was all drunk and screaming on stage and then drinking cough medicine afterwards (along with more alcohol). How badass. I know I was totally in love for the evening. So were Yulia and Max — who seemed most likely to have a shot at scoring with “Julie” since he was right in front of her during the show and she appeared to be eyeing him the whole time.
Anyways. Looking back soberly after a delay of a couple of weeks, I think the greatest thing about bands like Made Out of Babies is that they prove that almost anybody can be a rock star, at least at a certain level. The band is talented, no doubt about it, but really, they are not anything terribly unusual. They are not as talented, musically, as Don Caballero. They are not even as famous as Don Cab. But at the right time, under the right circumstances (and yes, alcohol helps), random Julie from Brooklyn and her weirdo band were like Mick Jagger to us. Hanging out with her was as cool as hanging out with Bowie and Iggy would be. All you have to do is work hard and be passionate and at least some people will get it, and at least some people will respond.
The other interesting thing that comes to mind as I write this up is that there are so few female rock stars. There are many women musicians who I respect and love, but there aren’t really too many female equivalents of Mick Jagger. There is this mixture of energy and power, sexuality and charisma, that those über-rock stars have, but women who have the same characteristics don’t usually become very successful. Instead women rock stars have to appear either crazy (Chan Marshall-style) or vulnerable (Liz Phair style) or slutty (Madonna style). It seems possible for women to be co-equal with the dynamic male frontmen: PJ Harvey has it to a certain extent; Joan Jett has it on a kind of cheesy level (she is awesome but more like a female counterpart to, say, Axl Rose); Karen O is working on it; Courtney Love tried it. Maybe “Julie Xmas” can pull it off. It is high time that somebody did.