Report: The Wedding Present Live in S.F.

 

U.K. indie-rockers the Wedding Present slug it out with the
all-girl band formerly known as Pinky Piglets at the Independent on April 1.

 

By
Jud Cost / Photo by Susan Moll

 

The
appearance in San Francisco of David Gedge’s vaunted U.K. combo, the Wedding Present,
was a fine night out for several reasons, some of them quite unexpected. If you
wandered into the Independent on Divisadero
St. shortly after 8:00, you were blind-sided by an
indecipherable caterwaul that was no April Fool’s Day joke. 

 

Two
girls onstage, one on drums, the other flailing away on an electric bass, were
screeching in a foreign tongue that to the untrained ear could have been French
spoken by Moroccans. Both wearing dayglo tights and short dresses, they seemed
to be counting “one, two, three, four,” over and over again, a la Dee
Dee Ramone in his glory days. And yet, the last tune they played made perfect
sense of their infectious racket. Then, after a set that lasted about 25
minutes, they were gone.

 

Not
to worry. They were shortly replaced by a foursome of bouncing girls, dressed
in dayglo tights and short skirts, two of whom were the same bassist and
drummer who had just vacated the stage. Welcome to the wonderful, colliding
universes of Zarigani Dollar (the duo) and Toquiwa (the quartet). Looking like
they might be a visiting high-school wrestling team, they hail from Tokyo and were recruited by Gedge on tour in Japan to open for the Wedding Present in America. Gedge
claims he almost didn’t go see the highly touted Toquiwa because, at the time,
they were calling themselves Pinky Piglets. And who would have blamed him?

 

Strutting
confidently like a young Debbie Harry, Asuja, the vocalist, has long black hair
and wears golden leatherette tights under her cut-off Levis hot pants. She soon strips off the
shorts and tights, revealing a zebra-striped bathing suit underneath. Mikko,
the guitarist, sporting dayglo red hair, wears a Mondrian-style,
geometric-patterned frock with dayglo colors replacing the primary hues of the
Dutch painter. She plays her instrument with the fervor of a one-night intern
for the MC5. The blonde bassist has changed into a different dayglo outfit from
the one she wore earlier, and the manic drummer, her brown hair piled up in a
headband, is apparently a temp replacing Seixo, the regular drummer, currently
“among a maternity leave,” according to the band’s flyer found on the
merch table.

 

It’s
more dayglo seen on one stage since just before the mid-’70s heyday of the
lime-green, double-knit leisure suit. Before their half-hour set times-out, the
girls have the totally engaged patrons eating out of their hands like pinky
piglets feeding hungrily at the dinner trough.

 

**

 

By
the time Gedge’s quartet launches into a noisy early Wedding Present number or
two, with the vocals mixed way down, the room is ready for anything.
“We’ll be playing our Seamonsters album tonight,” he says, “but that won’t be until a little
later.” Before long, he does a pair of tunes, back-to-back, from his
post-Wedding Present outfit, Cinerama. It’s quieter, more reflective stuff,
with the vocals, rather than the guitar, as the main focus. Gedge has a fine
voice, possibly inspired by (but never aping) that of fellow
“northerner” Stephen Morrissey from his days fronting the Smiths.

 

As
advertised, Seamonsters,
produced in 1991 by Steve Albini, sounds prodigious with occasional touches of
out-of-control pure noise scraped off the barnacled roof of the tour van of Jon
Spencer’s Pussy Galore. And yet, as the last bleary-eyed patron staggers from
the joint, you couldn’t help but wish they’d brought back the Toquiwa/Zarigani
Dollar/Pinky Piglets girls for one last Velvet Underground/Ramones-inspired
bonfire.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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