Live: SSION Put the Party in Santos Party House

09/21/2012 12:35 PM |


  • photos by Devon Banks

Kansas City pop group SSION are, by my estimation, one of the most underrated bands of the 00s. Their first proper record, 2003’s Opportunity Bless My Soul, was a super-sarcastic pop-punk record, that hurled spitballs at the “Return of the Rock!” garage revival of its moment. (“If I was hot this would sound like the Strokes! If I was smart this would sound like…Pavement!”) It holds up way better than I would have expected, but their follow-up, 2007’s Fool’s Gold, is a minor masterpiece of slick gay disco. Had it come out on DFA instead of Chicago’s small party label Sleazetone Records, it might have been a crossover indie hit. (But if your catchiest song is called “Street Jizz”, crossover appeal might not be the main goal?)

As a live act, Cody Critcheloe and his rotating band have always been a total spectacle. In their bratty punk phase, I saw Cody perform dressed as a cow, pantomime giving birth to a stuffed snake, do a few songs in a Kurt Cobain mask (while faux-Grohls and Novaselics lurked behind him), and have a full conversation with an animated projection of his disappointed Dad. For Fool’s Gold, he made an elaborate golden altar (out of cardboard) and just basked in ironic opulence, with backup dancers made up to be body doubles, liek he were the gay Saddam Hussein or something. At one point, he produced a Wile E. Coyote sparking cartoon dynamite ball, and it seemed pretty natural, really. In the present day, at last night’s record release for its follow-up, Bent, SSION seems to have further morphed into a darker, more physical club act, turning even a cover of Young Marble Giants’ “Credit in the Straight World” into a prompt for full-on grinding. It ended with the singer diving from the stage, then inviting the crowd back to join him on it. The closed-off cult seemed pretty cozy.

The scene at Santos Party House last night follows, in stills and slightly .giffed motion. This is probably the most visually subdued I have ever seen them, mind you…