Event Reviews

Ping Pong Bitches

Camden Dingwalls, London, England • March 3, 2002

“ppb3”

So “electroclash” is the next big thing, right? It’s the soundtrack for models and the high style bohemian cocaine life (no longer contradictions, sigh), according to everyone from Vogue to the NME. Then why the fuck am I in a Camden dive on a Sunday night one hour before Sigue Sigue Sputnik watching Ping Pong Bitches have to run from the front door of the venue straight to the stage before a crowd of about fifteen devoted and scores of nonchalant Goths and nostalgia-addled fiends mulling around the bar? Where’s Kate fucking Moss tonight? Where’re the beautiful people? Ping Pong Bitches are both “electro” – the music – and “clash” – of music, fashions, expectation – and they’re certainly more aesthetically perfect, unpredictable, and dangerous than half the bands in the critical darling express. Perhaps it is the real element of violence and confrontation that follows Ping Pong Bitches that has caused them to be shunted off to the side while pretenders steal their schtick and ride it all the way to Paris and New York. Hmmmm.

“ppb2”

The beautiful people should bastard well be here. Because this is the real shit. Ping Pong Bitches are the last band – a bored dominatrix-in-training crushing the dying embers of rock and roll/retro-futurism/bubble gum pop/industrial noise beneath the spike of her boot heel. Or maybe Ping Pong Bitches are Martin Rev and Alan Vega melted down to protomatter and then reconstituted and metamorphosed into three sneering ice princesses kitted out like a cross between Britney Spears and Irwin Rommel and Betty Page and stealing all of their best moves. Or even the pure human manifestation of Jem and the Holograms’ immortal foes, the selfish, vain, and fucking awesome MISFITS! But Ping Pong Bitches have even supplanted them as the coolest girls/gurls/grrrls in music NOW!

“ppb5”

No matter, there will be time for idle speculation and fervent metaphor-ing later, cuz the soundman has just pressed the “Play” button, the background tapes are cued, and the Ping Pong Bitches spring to life like A Clockwork Orange acted out by The Village People. There’s the easily definable character archetypes (dominatrix, fascist fraulein, and snotty pop girl), and the cool pose routines as rendered by dying zombie robots. It’s incredible – Kraftwerk’s “Showroom Dummies” brought to life. There’s group choreography, pseudo-erotic grinding (more hateful than sexy), kicks, punches, rude gestures, faux shooting up during heroin anthem “China White” (did I get the name right? This was just like Lou Reed in the glory days, complete with disdain for the audience, only the Bitches rock harder than Lou nowadays.), and even a pair of nunchucks are brandished menacingly – it’s brilliant exhilarating stuff. And no eye contact! The feeling of disdain and loathing toward everyone and everything, the feeling of being wronged for having to play an early slot in Camden instead of Wembley Arena, is palpable and delicious. Ditto the songs – about drugs, punk boyfriends, violence, seduction – raw nerve endings delivered in frigid dead tones. They sing a song named after themselves – all decent groups do. This is everything you ever wanted. Exhilarating.

http://www.ppb.uk.com


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