The Opposite of Getting Real

In the early 1990s, responding to the artifice of arena rock, alternative bands dressed down, stripped down and looked down at their shoes—hence "shoegazers." But now the rock pendulum is swinging back toward overt entertainment, and more and more bands—including Nashville Pussy—are arguing that the essence of rock is entertainment.

"We were sick of seeing bands that sucked, so we decided to make the kind of band that we wanted to see," Nashville Pussy guitarist Ruyter Suys, who plays in a leopard-print bra and lizard-skin pants, has said repeatedly in interviews.

And why not? Why not play fast, beer-soaked, Southern-fried, metal-tinged, rawkin' rock? Why not breathe fire and have two girls make out onstage? Why not remind the audience that sexuality and adrenaline and spectacle are what rock was about in the first place?

The Athens, Georgia-based foursome Nashville Pussy, which does all of the above, is easily the best of the rock resurgence bands. Their formula of propulsive music plus shocking stage antics is airtight, and they manage to breathe newness and excitement into a bag of old tricks. They're a guilty pleasure —swaggering, menacing, hedonistic, riveting—yet they don't come off as contrived.

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Unlike bands that fall all over themselves to tell you how they're real and honest and don't have a gimmick—that's their gimmick—Nashville Pussy are straightforward about their intention to blow you away. Part of their potency, no doubt, is that they've got excellent musicianship to back up the glimmer. Suys (who is married to vocalist/ guitarist Blaine Cartwright) puts all those boy-guitar geeks to shame. And she looks like she probably knows it. Cartwright; 6-foot-3, fire-breathing bass player Corey Parks (sister of Cherokee Parks, the 6-foot-11 forward for the Vancouver Grizzlies; and drummer Jeremy Thompson are equally gifted.

Nashville Pussy took their name from the intro to Ted Nugent's "Wang Dang Sweet Poontang" and have toured nearly nonstop since 1996. They took over Hole's slot on the Marilyn Manson tour when Hole dropped out. "Fried Chicken and Coffee," a track from their tastefully titled Mercury Records debut Let Them Eat Pussy, was nominated for a Grammy in 1999, and their follow-up album, High As Hell, will be released on TVT Records in late May.

And whatever you do, don't be one of those jerks who climb onstage with the band. Unlike groups that try to break down the barriers between the performer and audience, Nashville Pussy like to dominate. Get in their bubble, and they will attempt to kill you.

Nashville Pussy play with the Snake Charmers at Club Mesa, 843 W. 19th St., Costa Mesa, (949) 642-6634. Fri., 9 p.m. Call for cover. 21+.

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