Rock show on the inside, fashion show on the outside

If you’ve ever been to a show and wondered aloud whether you were at a rock show or a fashion show – not too farfetched of a question for PDX – Show Me the Pink was the first to sing the obvious this past Friday with their song, “The Anthem.”

“The rock show is inside, the fashion show is outside.”

Friday night combined the best (and worst) of rock and fashion all inside the magical space that is the Holocene. Or, as a friend of mine put it: “the Holoscene.”

Show Me the Pink’s set most likely maintained their extensive and loyal fan base, but I doubt it created any new ones, at least not with the crowd that I spoke with. This mix of men and women, queer and straight, didn’t “get it.” This is not because Show Me the Pink didn’t put on a good show – quite the contrary. But if you don’t “get it” or like it, you most likely never will, and if you do you were probably already well aware of their dance party/fun movement-inspired performances.

I can’t imagine a better choice of bands to kick off a lesbian-utopia-themed night. Even the most stoic person in the audience must have twitched their fingers or toes a little to their ear-catching music and eye-catching electro-punk performance. Show Me the Pink began the night as if it was a dance marathon, and for many it was.

Swan Island, another local favorite and logical choice for the night, went on next. Swan Island has a new fan in me and the cause is not simple nepotism [author’s note: Vanguard copy editor Torrence Stratton is a guitarist for the band].

Swan Island (who, vocalist Brisa Maria Gonzalez joked, were performing as “Show Me the Purple” for one night only) played an amazing show, especially considering the technical difficulties that could have affected their set but didn’t, including volume problems from one guitar during the first song.

Their influences range, but remain rooted in queercore. From start to finish the audience was set on “dance,” and no one took their eyes off the band. My only complaint is that half a dozen or so people got up and danced on stage. Granted, they were probably still caught up in the movement of fun began by Show Me the Pink’s set, but I would have much rather watched the lovely Ms. Gonzalez. The ways in which she sways and contorts with the rest of the band add a visual dimension to their show, and my fellow members of the audience detracted from this aspect of their performance.

But at least they had fun, and to be fair that was what the night was about. Maybe I’m a stick in the mud, but I prefer to have fun on the floor letting the music and crowd direct my body while my eyes and ears are pointed toward the stage.

JD Samson (of Le Tigre fame, in case you’ve been hiding under a rock and don’t know the name) was the official DJ spinning that night, and it was her night in more ways than one. The whole show was put on to promote her 2006 “JD’s Lesbian Utopia” calendar, a follow-up to 2003’s successful “JD’s Lesbian Calendar.” Both were in collaboration with the talented photographer Cass Bird. This past summer, JD and friends went on a 10-day camping trip in an RV, visiting queer campgrounds, “in search of a lesbian utopia,” and from that this the calendar was born.

JD’s visit to the Holocene had her spinning records, signing autographs and receiving countless compliments while images from the trip were projected onto a wall and calendars were sold. If you’ve never experienced her spinning, you’re missing out. The crowd loves her and it’s not a blind love. If you’ve never seen JD or one of her calendars, you’re also missing out. The camera loves her and for good reason.

The crowd Friday night was seemingly mostly queer, but there was a large sprinkling of (self-identified) hets as well. I think we all fell in love with JD’s vision of utopia. Hopefully it inspired us to make our own.

All in all, I was thrilled with the evening. I even bought a calendar to mark the occasion. This had nothing to do with the sexy, transgressive pin-ups of JD. Really. Or so I’d like my partner to believe.

If you missed the show and want some utopia action of your own, Swan Island will be playing this Wednesday with the Lovers at the Gossip record-release show at the Wonder Ballroom. Show Me the Pink will be releasing their album, Velocipedomania, on Feb. 14 at Porky’s Pub. JD Samson’s visits to Portland are not unbearably few and far between – watch for her spinning at the Dunes from time to time. If you want a peak at her calendar, it’s available for sale at for $10.