Hunx and His Punx
Live @ The Knitting Factory, Williamsburg
September 17, 2011
We’ve heard it before: Punk is dead. Whine whine. No one does it like they used to. Whine. Everything’s sheepish and wimpy and, dammit, too pretty. It seems like people have been predicting the end of anything worth listening to for about as long as nuts started predicting the end of the world on sandwich boards. But if Hunx and His Punx are a band with any say in it, it’s time those prophecies were retired, or at least time whatever they were printed on glitter-bombed.
Hunx and his Punx’s show at the Knitting Factory was the last stop on a miniature tour that began earlier this month, and from the amount of people in the audience mouthing all the words, it seemed like many had already caught them two weeks ago at the Mercury Lounge. Hunx’s first studio album for Hardly Art, Too Young To Be In Love (produced by Ivan Julian, original member of Richard Hell and the Voidoids), came out in late March, and since the band’s been cruising on positive press. Perhaps it’s because there’s something undeniably sexy and subversive about a dude singing some universal achey-breaky truths (“Why won’t you do it with me? I wanna do it with you,” frontman Seth Bogart sings on the album’s title track) in the style of The Shangri-La’s. Or, perhaps it’s because Bogart’s art feels less cynical than other nods to the era—he seems invested in the candy-coated queercore persona he presents onstage. Aside from being Hunx, Bogart owns a hair salon and is developing a variety show called Hollywood Nails.
But it’s the live show where the act is truly meant to shine. At the Knitting Factory, Bogart and his Punx, (with a new, slightly altered lineup of bassist Shannon Shaw, drummer Erin Emslie, guitarists Daniel Pitout and King Tuff, a.k.a. Kyle Thomas of Feathers and Happy Birthday), sauntered on stage in striped leggings, leotards, unitards and bowties. Bogart then flitted and frolicked throughout the set, thrusting his hips right into the faces and outstretched hands of the audience, grabbing his peen, and attempting to pee himself, he promised, if the crowd chanted loudly enough (we did, but he just wasn’t feeling a number one). The band played one delectable, catchy hit after another—the most satisfying of which were probably “Bad Boy” or “Lovers Lane” when Shaw threw her powerful, gritty vocals behind Bogart’s signature nasal croon.
The punk ethos is all neatly packaged in what could be a Katy Perry-like shtick, if the lead singer, you know, didn’t have a package with a tightly wrapped shtick (anyone in the front row at the Knitting Factory got to know the intimate contours of Seth Bogart’s striped underwear very, very well). It came across most poetically when, in the middle of “Hey Rocky,” Bogart turned around and daintily sort of tea-bagged a photographer by squatting on his head, or perhaps when that one white guy with dreads in the crowd put on some fake eyelashes sold at the Hunx merch table, took off his shirt and began to mosh. It’s just comforting to know that while a large contingent of our politicians are competing for the title of most vocal homophobe or anti-secular humanist, somewhere out there, there will be Hunx and his Punx, thrusting and possibly spraying a message of love and liberation into the faces of the front row.