May 06, 2005
Glorybee is "ahead of their time," to be sure. They are an eccentric band that doesn't adhere to musical performance norms. Even though they play outstanding music, they will never be the majority's favorite band. That's not said in an elitist way. They're just wacky and sideways. It's all a matter of how many people will accept the band by accepting the wackiness within themselves.
Now, maybe wacky is a bad word. They're not Laurel and Hardy or The Three Stooges. But, when vocalist Nancy shook her hands in a fit and stared down audience members at The Dragon's Den and asked them, "Are you Chinese," she evoked easy laughter. Challenging is a better word.
Friday night the challenging mixture of funk, electronica, jazz, and rock that is Glorybee was reincarnated. The music's mixture of vulnerable, insane, childlike, and sexy emotions returned in a new form. Why did they have to change? Vocalist Lord Hoffa left the band last year. He was one of many vocalists Glorybee lost. After going through new names like Marshmallow, the band decided that they had built too much on the Glorybee name to throw it away. And, besides, vocalist Nancy and pianist Bradley had been in the band since the beginning. How different was the new incarnation really gonna be? Nancy left behind the bass and synthesizer and assumed the role of lead vocalist. Bradley took over the role of bass with his left hand, and back-up vocalist duties went to the Steven Donnelly, who also manned the bells and other metal percussion items. Donnelly made the assortment at the New Orleans School of Metalsmithing, which he owns.
Glorybee's show Friday night was a stripped-down affair. The band wore matching jumpsuits, but there were no pig masks or fedoras or dancing Thai chefs. Were they warming up six songs in front of friends for future, bigger shows? Yes. Is this how they're gonna present themselves in the future? I don't know. A lot of the band's testosterone was absent with Hoffa. That was one of the band's attractive qualities: their twisted mixture of stalker confidence with little girl innocence.
I was talking about how Glorybee was challenging--oh, yeah, I was going to ask if you accept Glorybee's challenge.
The challenge is to approach Glorybee's music with no preconceived notions of music and to listen to it like you were a child.
What would I think of Nancy making up dances on the spot and singing in a children's voice? My kid self would like it and want to join in.
What would I think of the strange beat I heard in my head that wasn't in the music? The electronic beats, acoustic drums, synthesizer melodies and bass lines were all operating on a beat that was only implied. Like in jazz. What would I think? Well, since I have no preconceived notion of music, I could only say my booty shook. Disjunctively and awkwardly, but it shook.
Nancy took to the lead vocalist role well. She was confident and had bedbugs in her drawers. Like she had all this built up emotion that she had to get out through the music. That's where the shaking and the screaming came in. They were off-putting yet still enjoyable. It was impressive how emotive she was and how far she'd go with a scream.
Nancy let some anger out during "Embarassed to be Chinese." As with the other songs, "Chinese" took many different turns and had very simple lyrics. It was very hard to tell when the song would end or what little part would pop up just to disappear thirty seconds later and never re-appear. The intrigue created by that mystery was fun. The main lyrics were "Are you Chinese? Are you Chinese? I'm not Chinese. Embarassed to be Chinese?" Nancy built up steam and a lot of enjoyable room tension when she repeated those lines with more and more intensity thirty or so times. Another song that displayed Glorybee's mantra-like lyrical approach was "Buddy." Most of it: "You're a mean guy. I'm a nice girl. You think you're a genius, but you're really stupid."
Bradley's melodies and grooves were so elemental and effective. Like, "Why were The Meters so good? Well, they found what worked." He's easily the musical mastermind behind the band.