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Friday, October 3, 2008

Ponytail: Makes Me Wanna Holler

posted by on October 3 at 10:21 AM


Did the Vice Presidential debate last night wear you down, too? You should have gone to see Ponytail at Nectar immediately after. It was the perfect tonic.

Seriously, parsing every word and phrase that Joe Biden and that woman who I do not refer to directly (because she falls under what I call “The Courtney Love Rule”: Naming them out loud only gives them undeserved influence) had left me exhausted. For 90 minutes, the English language, which I love so dearly, was twisted and pulled, this way and that. (What is up with politicians who insist on mispronouncing “nuclear”? New + clear = nuclear.) Watching the post-show pundits on CNN dissect which exotic names the candidates had nailed, and which they had fumbled, was just a blow upon the bruise.

Ponytail has little use for the English language. (At least in their songs. Their stage banter was cute, and they were cordial as all get out when I bought my T-shirt.) Of course, I didn’t realize that when I bought their awesome album Ice Cream Spiritual. I was initially scared to play it on my radio show, because I assumed any music this incendiary had to contain FCC-inappropriate words—even if I couldn’t decipher them. But then figured out that the Baltimore quartet sidesteps that concern, by tapping straight into the primal power of the human voice, sans lyrical clutter. Molly Siegel is not a mind-blowing vocalist in the technical sense, like Diamanda Galas. But she and her band mates have created their own vocabulary of sounds, in which her cries and glottal attacks are just as vital, cuckoo, and inventive as the intertwined guitars of Dustin Wong and Ken Seeno.

The comparison that came to mind, post-show, was the Cocteau Twins. Their music sounds nothing alike—Ponytail’s jumping off point, stylistically, seems to be an endless childhood game of Cowboys & Indians, all gleeful war whoops and racing around in circles—yet both bands whip up wordless worlds that the listener can easily get lost in. And last night I wanted to get lost. I wanted to dance (apologies to the dude whose foot I crunched—my fault, entirely) and holler and make that crazy bird trilling noise I emit when a band fills me with glee. Ponytail revitalized me like a jolt of electricity through my tired, grumpy old bones.

Now that I think about it, the most powerful moment in the VP debate was when Joe Biden was talking about his son, and got so choked up he couldn’t speak. Language is overrated. That’s my cue to sign off.

RSS icon Comments


I was totally blown away by ponytail last night. I love Siegel's stage stance, as if she's summoning her performance from the Earth itself. New fan here, and they stole the show last night.

Posted by erin | October 3, 2008 11:28 AM

Yes. They are amazing. They spontaneously did an acoustic song at the Anacortes show and the crazy beauty totally held up in a more subdued landscape as well.

Posted by Kevin Erickson | October 6, 2008 9:32 AM

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