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The Virgins and Hockey @ Troubadour, 12/17

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Wednesday night, around 10:30pm Pacific Standard Time, one of the fundamental truths that I had held to be self-evident came crashing down. It is a well-known fact that disco and rock are mortal enemies. Even now Staying Alive and Won't Get Fooled Again cannot be played at the same party, or, if they are, they need at least three songs in between them as a buffer. Throughout the '70s and into the '80s people divided themselves into polyester-clad and the cotton t-shirt-wearing teams. Both sides looked at each other with great disdain and loathing. And what do I find at the Troubadour in 2008, but disco and rock making sweet sweet love to one another on stage taking the form of the bands Hockey and the Virgins? It was heavy, dude.

Hockey, a young band from Portland, Oregon, were the first to alert me to this disco/rock connection with their song Work. The bass, guitar, and drums started grooving with this funky disco beat and then the vocals came over as this scratchy raw almost-punk sound. It was if The Replacements were covering a KC and the Sunshine Band tune. It was all so wrong... and yet so right.

The lead singer, a young pixie-ish looking guy fidgeted throughout the whole set. Taking his fashion notes from The Clash and dancing from Mick Jagger, it became clear that this was a case of the drummer who became lead singer. Without his drum sticks, he was lost and took his nervous energy out on the poor defenseless microphone. During the set he managed to tangle one of his necklaces irretrievably in the chord and while singing decided to untangle it, which lead to him pulling the chord out all together. Poor guy had a few moments of silence while he plugged the mic back in. During the long guitar solos, he would scurry to the back and bang away happily with the drummer. All and all a very promising band that got the crowd hopping.

I will be the first to admit that I expected very little from The Virgins. After reading about this much hyped Manhattanite band that was formed at a model shoot, I had already made some seriously unwarranted judgments. Could models really rock? I had my doubts. I had heard some tunes on their Myspace which were part disco and part rock that seemed unoriginal, but catchy. Wow, was I wrong.

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These guys are the start of a new groove. Taking the pulsing disco vibe and contrasting it with the minimalist vocals of lead singer, Donald Cumming1 The Virgins touched my heart (for the very first time.) Not all of their tunes are disco, but all of them are danceable. There is a power and a grit to their disco (That's right. Gritty disco) that makes the music raw and seem less packaged. So much so that by the time they got to She's Expensive I found my booty shaking of its own accord. I don't know what got into me. They closed with a dead-on funkified cover of Aerosmith's Sweet Emotion. I have never heard Steven Tyler's words sound so sexy. It was bizarre. If The Virgins roll through again, I highly recommend you put on your dancing shoes and go.

Want to read more about the Virgins' debut album? Here's the LAist review.
All photos were taken by the lovely and talented Jessi Duston.

1. Yes, the lead singer of The Virgins is named Donald Cumming. Not that I'm going to make a joke about it because that would be unprofessional.