They rocked from the start. But Weird. Wonderfully weird. Weird nonetheless. That was my first thought as Plastiq Passion, a punk quartet, tore into their set. The band’s name comes from The Cure, although at Groove on Grove they tended towards upbeat, up-tempo, melodic rock.
Plastiq Passion are fun, but in spite of the oxymoron implied in their name, there was little of the irony and none of the nihilism, so often associated with all-women punk bands. That attitude has become cliché. The anger a pose. Plastiq Passion was brash and edgy but also strange, infectious – accelerated garage rock, with poetic lyrics. No clichés. No poses.
These cats can play. Ragged-around-the-edges but tight and in fact, that raggedness seemed intentional, part of the punk style of raw honesty, not some byproduct of musical amateurism. The songs weren’t just tossed off, they were exuberant and engaging and flippant. The attitude of these women was let’s get this party started. And a party was had.
They weren’t just replicating three-chord Ramones ditties, they were shaking things up with some shimmy-inducing surf rock riffs. The breaks were textured, a sonic sprawl and at the moment you think you are hearing some extended jam, the unit was back to the unadorned mission at hand – Rock & Roll.
I had to restrain myself from involuntary pogoing. Up-tempo punk pop, one song quoted Shakespeare in the chorus – “the entire World’s a Stage.” The hooks were fast and infectious, echoing surf rock and rockabilly, but still in the punk rock vein. Those same hooks, riffs, and licks punk rock has always quoted and reinterpreted for a new generation.
“Don’t be so tragic, why don’t you be irresponsible, just like me” came the chorus of Irresponsible –, the narrator recommending lust is the answer, damn the consequences – a sly rocker, transgressive and brisk.
Then a power ballad – at least it started off a slow, pop ballad with heart-wrenching, meaty chords, where escape is offered as the answer to save love “Let’s Drive Away, Feel Like We did once Before,” Jessica Chaos, who handled vocals and guitar, pleaded with her throaty voice – sort of gravely Wanda Jackson. The song shifted to a rave-up that pumped up the crowd, before cascading back to the pop ballad, replete with Tom Verlaine inspired licks (reminiscent of Elevation).
In addition to Chaos, who handles rhythm guitar and lead vocals, the band includes: Deborah Sanchez, guitarist, Christine Simon on bass, and Stacey Lee on drums, who was having a great set, propelling her band mates into rip-it-up rock territory. This faster, poppy punk returned for the set’s conclusion, which erupted into cataclysmic feedback. Marvelous noise, the way a set of unabashed and unapologetic punk rock should end. Much of the crowd was on their feet and applauding.
What a fine punk band! What more can be ask for on a humid summer evening? The predicted rain never fell. The Groove on Grove Rock & Roll was splendid. Plastiq Passion respects and reenacts many of the traditions of Punk, but they shoved those traditions forward too.