Verity Susman + Kool Thing @ Le Point Éphémère, Paris 10 April
Le Point Éphémère rests along the bank of the canal Saint-Martin in the 10th Arrondissement. The dark interior is nearly empty when the girls are arrive, pleased to be indoors away from the pounding rain. The lights dim, and people begin to straggle in.
Julie Chance, Jon Dark, and Valentin Plessy take the stage. Kool Thing kick off with ‘Low Love,’ ushering the audience into their musical universe. The intense, commanding presence of Julie Chance (whose marching-in-place, Ian Curtisesque dance moves own the room), Dark’s virtuoso multi-instrumental skills, and Plessy’s confidently dynamic percussion make for the perfect equation of a band on the up-and-up.
‘TV Tower’ is the stand-out number of the evening, making the intensity level on-stage and in the audience palpable. With its inventive drums combined with florid guitar, ‘Line Drive’ brings to mind all the power of the emotionally intense reservation of New Order. The band exists as one cohesive unit, so tight on-stage that they could be in front of an entirely empty room and still be giving their all.
Donning a droopy, 70s-style mustache, Verity Susman ‘s onstage persona resembles that of Tommy ‘Disco Apache’ Seebach as seen through the eyes of psych-cowboy crooner, Lee Hazlewood. Accompanied by visual images provided by Jack Barraclough [Halo Halo], the interaction between Susman and the characters at play on-screen bring to mind some aspects of the work of Wynne Greenwood’s Tracy + The Plastics, though taken to a far more psychedelic, less literal, and more vulnerable level. Utilizing looping, Susman plays with her own unique brand of disco drone that at times breaks out into full-on dance anthems.
While not easily readable, her performance creates an interesting interplay between robotic literalism and emotional intensity. ‘To Make You Afraid’ is at once witty, and melancholy. Musing on the interplay between perceived gender representation and female masculinity, the pathos Susman delivers is profoundly moving. The audience stands enraptured in her performance, calling her back for an encore featuring a magnificently evocative and paired-down rendition of Pulp’s ‘Wishful Thinking’ that would make Jarvis Cocker and Candida Doyle proud.