The Red Alert
The Red Alert


Music Box - June 10, 2007

Live Review by Joe Cortez


The shift from opening act to featured attraction can sometimes be a long and daunting journey for a band to endure, one often filled with apathetic audiences and awkward co-minglings. For the lucky few, such a road is paved with good fortune and open-minded throngs. Consider the case of Brazil’s own band of merry MySpace hit makers, CSS - or Cansei De Ser Sexy for the adventurous. I first encountered this ragtag group as support for established keepers-of-cool Ladytron. When they appeared, they were scruffy, unkempt and looked as if they had lost their way onto the stage. When I saw them again at the Fonda on the night of June 10th they were, well, scruffy, unkempt and looked as if they had lost their way onto the stage, but this time they were the headliners, having won audiences over with their spirited performances and butchering of the English language - not to mention a generous helping of some serious buzz along the way.


With nary a ballad to be written or performed, there is little doubt that CSS is a party band in the same grand tradition as The B-52’s. As good as their self-titled debut album is, listening to the disc alone at home is a lot like watching The Rocky Horror Picture Show without the accompaniment of transvestites and toilet paper. With this in mind, it was easy for one to imagine why their performance at the Fonda’s Music Box was so anticipated by their L.A. fan base. The capacity crowd packed like sardines in an atmosphere more akin to a punk show than a dance party, but such a crowded situation would later prove apt, due to a surprise lead singer Lovefoxxx assured they had up their sleeves.


As the curtains rose revealing the set stage, a whimsical array of multi-colored balloons were seen tied to the instrument setups. No circumstance was given for such pomp and indeed it would have been foolish for anyone in the audience to ask for an explanation from a band such as CSS. Although their songs reference contemporary pop culture like it’s going out of style, it is never done so with irony and so, too, was the touch of these helium-inflated party favors. Minimalist, they were the perfect way to get the crowd in the right state of mind for the show.


Bursting onto the scene with a riotous new opener, CSS proudly proclaimed that they had arrived. Always the fashion maven, Lovefoxxx quickly tore off her plain outerwear revealing a glittering couture dress that made her even more the focal point of the band before tearing into the second number of the night, “Alala.” Nearly every cut off their album got some play before the night was over.


As much partying as there was to go around (and with band that has a song called “Alcohol” in their repertoire, one can be assured there was plenty to be had this evening) the band itself proved to be outstanding musicians. Never missing a beat or hitting a sour note, they powered through their set with inspired energy and at times even reached moments of grace and beauty amidst the noise. Not one to be outdone by her bandmates’ pure musicianship, Lovefoxxx proved why she is the frontwoman of the group by bravely stage diving and throwing copious amounts of glitter in the faces of the collective gathered to bear witness to the spectacle that is CSS.


As the show drew to a close, Lovefoxxx reminded the audience once again of the band’s surprise and sure enough they delivered, calling out to the stage Donita Sparks of legendary post punk group L7 to perform their early Nineties favorite, “Pretend We’re Dead.” A surprise, to be sure, but not entirely unexpected, as CSS have long played the L7 gem at past shows as a kind of homage and acknowledgement of one of their influences. Sparks was in fine form, more than able to vocally spar with Lovefoxxx and it was an absolute joy to see her take the stage with these wild kids from Brazil, providing a memorable capper to an incredible night of live music.



CSS - Live - December 11, 2008


More by this writer:

Lesbians on Ecstasy - We Know You Know

Mitch Easter - Dynamico