Slash Magazine Vol. 3, No. 3

at the Whisky

   Nervous Gender's primary virtue is that they exist at all. They're condemmed to languish out this existance in an awkward and haltering position - but they perservere with a peculiar, near reverant integrity toward it. If one can transform a dolorous fate into a poetic vision then harrowing monsters may be born. Nervous Gender's visions came with birth, not by invention. They stand out by their fading away, like a stranger in a dark corner who needn't show his face.
   Like this stranger, they stand little chance of acceptance by the crowd. Their estrangement takes the form of an alluring aloofness - a decisive emotional distance from the goings-on. Theirs is not the way of cleverness - if they remain "unapproachable", it's not by an elaborately modeled persona (like the Pistols or Screamers), but by their grim nakedness, their ability to show scars.
   Surprisingly, Phranc's departure left them collectively stronger and more cohesive than before. Her personal magnetism made them top heavy and unbalanced, like an idea in need of a vehicle or passion without a body to experience itself. Now, Paul Roessler's discreet percussive effects lend a spine and solidity to the music - a will to live ... if you will. Punctuated thus, their sound becomes integrated into muscle tissue. Relax goes to reflex.
   Gerardo, Edward, Mike and Paul are all powerful vocalists, and the rotation between them's real good. Gerardo is the most disturbing presence, (silently) pulsating with some kind of psychological gravity. The lowlight of this show was seeing Paul, who is usually stuck behind the keyboards with The Screamers, belting out vocal blisters on Carly Simon's "The Slave". For his efforts, the little angel blew the guts out of the sound system. Bravo, Paul.
   Nervous Gender's only comic relief is Sven, the drummer, who's about eight years old. But even then you wonder what the little fellow's seen to make him look forty. Nervous Gender is not for lightweights, but neither is life.
   Last time I saw Geza's band they played after the Germs, this time after Nervous Gender. It's like dancing with a lampshade during an air strike, the incongruity makes for great spiritual relief. If we should assassinate the Pope, Geza would be the patron saint of something-or-other. That something is quite intangible, but seems fucking essential to a sane life.
   The new Mommymen are a way better band than the old Mommymen. Time is one factor of improvement certainly, they're more familiar with each other and the material. Also a new bassist, who's not as visually pleasing as Kira, but is real good aurally, and the addition of Don Bonebrake on vibes, who gives the songs a loopy, polka-like feel. I need not elucidate on the merits of Paul Roessler, Geza or Pat Delany's musical eccentrese, but Brendan Mullen is actually a great skinsman (not to be discounted by the various deficits that he doesn't really have, but everyone thinks he does anyway).
   Mr. Geza has, shall we say, a slightly slanted view of life, and his art merges right into it. His imagination is the water well that the sponge-beaked bird dips into, a closed system that runs on to infinity. The set starts out with a "doggie made a doo doo on the carpet so Mommy used the butt pliers on me" monologue on tape, mixed up like eggs and organ meat. This trademark Gezaism is abusrd, but its absurdity masks the little kid tension that starts to snap between 15 and 25, if not at 50."Not the butt pliers" over and over and over again.
   And so on throughout each song. Extenuating the weirdness in everyday relationships but elevating their absurdity on out the window. One day they may indeed come out with "isotope soap" which will clean the face off the dirt. A Hungarian can hate Hungarians if he refuses to be Hungarian anymore.
   The last two songs were "I Hate Punk" (or love punk, but don't know why for either) and "Paranoias", a relentless jagged over-the-shoulder chant. Geza confesses "I don't like it when you read my mind!". I confess: Oh shit, I wish I could, but I don't know why.

-Will L'Amato