I love them for different reasons, because they’re all rather different things, but there are three things they have in common. As Bluesfest wrapped with KC’s Boogie Blast, I’m going to mention these three things as they relate to disco.
1. People seem to expect me to feel that they’re some sort of guilty pleasure.
You want me to feel guilty over liking disco because a bunch of American rednecks started “Disco Sucks” riots when they got intimidated by a burgeoning genre featuring aggressive women, black people and international performers? I’m sorry, I seem to have lost the memo instructing me to take my fucking musical taste cues from a bunch of baseball-playing trogs who wanted to keep the airwaves male, white, and AmERcan. Why don’t you go look for it in my ‘fuck off’ pile?
2. None of these three things are ironic in some dumb-ass self-deprecating way.
Disco music doesn’t squat in the corner scowling, projecting “oooooo, look at me, I’m such a handsome and complicated loser – DON’T TOUCH ME DON’T TOUCH ME – okay, touch me as long as you can nurse me back to emotional health”. It is never ever fucking emo in the vague and disgusting sense I am understanding that term musically. Each song has a single, pretty message; be it about how you should lay back while I put away the dishes and then you and me can rock a bell, how I feel when you’re laying so close to me, how I’ve never really looked before but now you take my breath away – et al.
3. The effect of all three things is blatantly, unashamedly physical.
Yes, I will indulge in a few tears over Violet even though she’s fit enough on her deathbed to belt out “Parigi o cara” so sweet and strong it’s like a thousand perfect violins, please; and what’s more, as you’re offering I will have a delicious little shudder to think of Heathcliff smiling fixedly at something in the room Ellen can’t see. But most of all, I cannot wait to shake my booty. I will accept the advice from various sources that I gotta get up and get down, and if I have time this evening, I think I’ll love a little bit so that I know that I’m alive. Thank you ever so much.
My point is, I really liked KC’s Boogie Blast, and anybody who thinks that’s bad is a jerk. I think they'd pretty much all found God - Gloria Gaynor, in fact, gave me the impression that's who she thought we should save our love for in terms of someone who's lovin' us - and the years had been variously kind or not - Kathy Sledge looked good enough to eat with a spoon, KC didn't. But whatever. They'd hired some awesome musicians, including a bass player who I wanted to throw my panties at, and it was great.
Other than that in terms of high points, Wilco was lovely. I really had had no idea what to expect live, and yet it wasn’t what I expected; I haven't been that massaged into a good mood by a live performance since Neil Young in 1997. Jeff Tweedy has got really hairy, which was fine with me. Sugarplum and I had a hard time thinking of anybody who sings or plays that sort of music who isn’t. I still haven’t. Something else all lovely was the only actual blues we heard, Tony D at the tail end.
Oh, and leave me not fucking forget the Kentucky Headhunters. The drummer, who looked like I could break him over my knee, had a super-extended super-heavy drum solo that ended with him throwing away the sticks and laying into the set with his hands. And still sounding good. Class.
In terms of low points, happily there weren't many. I'd been excited about Saturday being Gospel Day, but when we approached the stage there was someone - I think Sherwin Gardner - shouting about his relationship with Jesus and the Islands, by which I think he meant the Caribbean. I've got no relationship with the Caribbean and Jesus and I are still in a bit of a snit because of that history of Christian oppression thing; if I'm going to hear about him there has to be harmony. Kathleen Edwards was nice but a little boring and I lost interest altogether when she sang a whiny song about how much she hates Toronto.
Metric had lovely music but the lead singer's "I'm-an-extra-cool-and-indifferent-Justine Frischmann" voice made me want to spit irritated nails. We gave it a good college try because the instrumentalization was double pretty. But when Emily Haines launched into a song with some nonsense "bam-shaka-lam-bam-bam-bam-boom" expression and made it sound bored and jaded on purpose, I was fucking soured. They need a new singer, and they need to give her/him melodic lines. Stat. Boo.