Close

On the Scene: Perfect Pussy at Death By Audio, NYC

posted by Alyssa Buffenstein on April 07, 2014

Photo via NPR

Brookyln, New York -- Just before Perfect Pussy officially took the stage for their record release show at Death By Audio, singer Meredith Graves made a quick PSA. “Did anyone lose a cell phone? We found this,” she asked the audience, smiling meekly, holding a Nokia in the air.

The informal introduction made it all the more confusing when the band went on for real, beginning their set with Drake’s “Started from the Bottom.” As the Syracuse five-piece danced along to the hip-hop chorus, it was unclear whether the song choice was a conscious introduction, or the sound guy making a joke. But then, the song began to skip. Words repeated. Intrusions of angry noise interrupted the chilled-out flow of the original song, and it became clear that Perfect Pussy was proclaiming a triumph, using a deconstructed remix of a Drake song as the vehicle.

“Six months ago we didn’t even know we were a band,” Graves would say later. 

The humble incredulity of the fans’ enthusiasm was the only reminder that the band, which was celebrating the release of its debut album, Say Yes to Love, had built an already-significant following with just a four-song EP released in April 2013. 

Listening to a Perfect Pussy song is kind of like listening to five songs at once, and seeing them perform is a little like watching five people each play a different song at the same time. Somehow, the layers come together to form a cohesive, but by no means harmonic, arrangement of completely fresh-sounding noise punk.

There’s the creepy haunted house keyboard layer, the thrash metal guitar-sweeping layer, the maniacal, discordant drum layer, and a hint of indie rock to tie down the shouted vocals, which, intentionally, almost get lost in it all. 

“Shouted” isn’t even a strong enough verb; Graves was exorcising demons. With the barely-decipherable delivery of lyrics, she had the vibe of Crystal Castles’ Alice Glass, but with a more personal, emotional attitude, especially emphasized when she paused between songs to let the audience know that most of the bands’ parents were in attendance. 

In order to enjoy Perfect Pussy, you have to forget what it is you like about music, because they will not give it to you. You have to strain to understand the lyrics, listen closely for when you should move your body in time with the non-uniform rhythm, and you might finally understand why dogs freak out at dog whistles when the band creates feedback loops on purpose, and the screeching noise from the speakers makes you worry for your future hearing.

It might be the disparity between Graves’ sweet looks, and the monstrous noises that come out of her mouth (there’s something captivating about seeing a cute, giggly girl in a lace dress stomp around a stage), or maybe it’s the way that each song is like a chaotic catharsis, but the band has a magnetism that continues to draw larger and larger crowds. 

The band’s buzz moment is now, and the innocence of it won’t last much longer than their record-release set did. Once the barely-30-minute album had been played in full, Graves fell backwards into the pit, letting the crowd carry her to the back of the room, then up to the front again, arms outstretched like a martyr. Without a final thank you, and without an encore, the show was over, leaving the audience dazed, drained, and straddling the line between satisfied and totally wanting more.

And then “Started from the Bottom” came back on, playing the sweaty mosh pit out and into the rain. 

See Also: