Porsches on the Autobahn, Golden Boots, Music VideoPlush, Friday, Jan. 19
Shtick is a high-risk enterprise.
Porsches on the Autobahn's stage energy surges into 100 faces radiating question marks. Their lyrics are punk-lite aphorisms; their political and social commentary is crude at best. Will all their cheerleading eventually suck you in?
They are crawling on their backs through the crowd. They are lofting dozens of beach balls into play. They are doing jumping jacks. They are jumping over chairs and rapping in thick accents of indeterminate origin, stripping off layers of shirts to relieve the sweat and heat of perpetual motion. While you're still deciding if you'll stay, one over-the-top stunt after the other is entertaining the hell out of you.
The name Porsches on the Autobahn is somewhat misleading, suggesting a speed and grace to which the band's performance hardly aspires. In fact, they seem more like Dodge Darts on the Autobahn, and therein is the rest of the joke.
Musically, beats are their salvation. Porsches' ostensible point of reference is the electronic, mathematically keyboard-driven "kraut rock" popularized in the early '70s (like the Dart, and about to the same extent, which is to say: not a whole lot). The influence of bands like Kraftwerk and Faust got legs later in the decade via the new wave movement, and eventually found its way into '80s and '90s experimental indie rock. Meanwhile, popular music also passed through disco culture, which begat the hip-hop nation, illustrating that no matter how insightful the lyrics or how skilled the playing, what moves people most viscerally is beats--the part of the music that shakes your moneymaker independent of anything going on with your intellect at the time.
Porsches have those beats down to a mathematical science, and the crowd at Plush turned into a pulsing mush, its question marks pretty much devolving into shouts and laughter.
Contrastingly, the gentler, friendlier shtick of opener Music Video--the solo, keyboard-and-effects project of Paul Jenkins--won the crowd mostly with his sincerity and songcraft, although his distribution of delightful "Hello Kitty" spinning light wands added a welcome lightheartedness to the atmosphere.
Sandwiched into this context was an entirely anomalous set: Golden Boots' collection of new and old deconstructed roots material was as engaging as ever, despite a bicycle accident that left singer-guitarist Dimitri Manos with fractured feet.