A former male go-go dancer, a female drag queen and a keyboardist named Babydaddy walk into a bar....
On any given day, a well-intentioned joke could be misconstrued to be politically incorrect, ethnically insensitive, unpatriotic or just plain offensive to other human beings. What you thought was deft irony ends up getting you socially ostracized, or your tires slashed. Due to the contentious nature of humor, we've become horribly serious bores.
So it makes sense that a band comprising one gay male go-go dancer, a female drag queen and a keyboardist named Babydaddy would tickle the funny bone of blissed-out indie-rock fans who are tired of playing it straight. Especially since the band is named after a lesbian sex trick and has a nifty gift for danceable versions of dreary Pink Floyd songs.
The Scissor Sisters are the pin that finally pricks the balloon of gloom that has hovered over the rock world since grunge, nü-metal and emo dove frown-first into America's unspoken sadness. Though not the only ones (Har Mar Superstar and Cake come to mind), the campy art fags make alternative music a fun experience again. It's reasonable to laugh and smile at the spectacle again.
And man, we need this more than we need a drink. Our arms are permanently creased from excessive crossing, and we're drained by introspective lyrics that fall into the T.M.I. category.
Dance music made its comeback in the U.K. long before Americans remembered they had swingable hips, so it's no surprise the Scissor Sisters are already a pop sensation overseas. Frontman Jake Shears (born Jake Sellards) sings about sex and partying with your mama and the New York scene like his microphone is a hairbrush and the audience is a bedroom mirror. It's that charisma and wholesale abandon that the Scissor Sisters are using to steal pop back from the Mouseketeers.
Sure, we're talking more about the messengers than the message, but in pop music, the two are inseparable. Faceless music only works in elevators to keep social anxiety at bay. The Sisters-Shears, keyboardist-bassist Babydaddy (Scott Hoffman), vocalist Ana Matronic, guitarists Del Marquis and Derek G and drummer Paddy Boom-give us hope that maybe creative, intriguing humans are no longer allergic to pop.
In the U.K., the Sisters already have a No. 1 platinum hit, been on the cover of pretentious music rag NME, played Top of the Pops and opened for an enthusiastic Elton John (one of their stylistic forebearers, along with The Bee Gees). The band's state-bound single, "Take Your Mama" is a swaggering assault on adult party life-sung about Shear's mother, no less-that drips with a decadent falsetto. But it was the band's peppy dance cover of Pink Floyd's "Comfortably Numb"-a song about the soul-sucking effects of drug addiction-that became a radio and club anthem and made them paparazzi bait.
How long will the party last? It seems that old bitch named Limelight is already getting on their nerves. From Hollywood to London, blushing starlets are fawning over the Sisters' "insane" live show, and Shears told Spin magazine in August, "Fuck off. We're not the Village People."
Not a good sign. The worst thing the Scissor Sisters could do at this point is to not allow people to think they're kind of funny. Maybe rock 'n' roll was never really meant to be humorous, even when a former male go-go dancer, a female drag queen and a keyboardist named Babydaddy walk into a bar....
The Scissor Sisters may or may not be funny when they play at 'Canes, 8 p.m. on Sept. 28. $12-$15. 858-488-1780.