Thursday, August 05, 2004Hot Topic
Hooray! Le Tigre will be doing a PA at Popstarz in October. This is good news for Le Tigre fans, because it basically means they can see one of the most influential of feminist/ left-wing bands in recent years for free if they get there early enough. This, however, raises a debate that Abstractboy has been having with his friends recently with regards to the London “alternative” gay scene (or rather the mainstream alternative gay scene). Confused?
Popstarz is London’s Biggest Queer Alternative. You know this as soon as you have bought your “2-4-1 drinks B4 11” – there are projections all over the main room proclaiming this fact. But the discerning punter may question the extent to which Popstarz and Thursday night club, Miss-Shapes, really are an alternative to what we consider the mainstream gay scene, which leads on to further questions regarding the role of such a scene and so on. When Abstractboy first moved to London he was very excited about the prospect of gay clubs that would actually play “decent” music, having grown up in Edinburgh where there is only one scene as such. Popstarz seemed perfect – they played a lot of bands he loved and did not expect to hear ordinarily in a gay club. Popstarz became the regular Friday night engagement. But slowly it dawned on everyone that the music policy at even the biggest queer alternative was formulaic and unchallenging – the real leftfield artists would be played in the first hour when the main room is always infamously empty, and there is very little variation in the songs played from night to night. On the whole, it is fair to say that Popstarz is geared at a mass appeal, and with the inclusion of a rubbish room (80s and 90s cheese pop) and an R’n’B lounge, it is essentially a catch-all club, and certainly doesn’t feel like that much of an alternative to the gay scene.
You are probably now thinking “Isn’t Abstractboy an elitist swine!” and you probably wouldn’t be wrong, but that isn’t the point. The point is that to the majority of the clientele, Le Tigre will only mean “That Song They Play After The Second Peaches Song” (Deceptacon). The political messages of Le Tigre will fairly certainly float over the consciousness of the majority of the Popstarz crowd, which surely defeats the point of a Le Tigre performance. The problem isn’t necessarily that the people don’t get it, rather that it seems Popstarz have ideas above their own station for what to expect of their present clientele. Abstractboy feels that Popstarz is now just another gay Friday night affair – it isn’t about an indie music policy (take the permanently crowded “Rubbish Room” for example) or making a real stand against the over-commercial and corporate mainstream scene.
Then again, the point of a PA is also for the band to promote themselves, and so Le Tigre will hope to find new fans in the crowd. And considering they are a band that promotes gay rights, they should hopefully strike a chord with the audience. However, Abstractboy is more interested in the concept of the gay indie club. As an indie kid who also happens to be gay, Abstractboy prefers to go indie clubs that don’t necessarily affiliate to a certain sexuality and have a music policy that is more…challenging?! But this is obviously not the case for everyone, and for people of a similar disposition it can be a great way to meet similar people. Abstractboy met his wonderful indie boyfriend in Popstarz, and so can never really dismiss indie gay clubs as a farcical concept. And Popstarz and Miss-Shapes are still fun nights out when done less frequently. But if you do not have a huge desire to meet new lovers/ pulls/ polysexual partners and you like la musique alternative, a night at White Heat or the Metro Club will be far more interesting in terms of music. While clearly there is still a need for the gay indie club, London offers such a range of decent indie clubs that to keep the real indie kids coming, they will have to tune in and tune up to the sound of the underground. Or not. Who knows?