Live Review: Chicks On Speed

9 February 2015 | 2:45 pm | Guido Farnell

Chicks On Speed prove they shouldn't be taken too seriously

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The NGV is pumping under the influence of some serious party vibes tonight as hordes of women and a few fashion-conscious men are headed in to check out the Jean Paul Gaultier exhibition with the added bonus of Chicks on Speed strutting their stuff. Andee Frost, famous for his marathon House De Frost sets, is dealing the disco-inflected beats. It’s fun feel-good stuff but tonight it’s Maison De Gaultier in all its feathered, sequined and glass-beaded extravagant glory that has attracted the fashionistas and fashion victims. Ever since the Bondi hipsters sorted us out with a pair of Tsodomi jeans it feels like we’ve all become more than a little fashion forward. We move from Madonna’s famous bustier to costumes from Almodovar’s films, including that skin-tone evening dress with faux genitalia Gael Garcia Bernal wore when he played a drag queen in Bad Education. Even Kylie Minogue had the pleasure of wearing a number of these dresses. It all starts to become a delirious blur of glamour. Young women marvel at the technical detail involved in arranging and hand-sewing thousands of glass beads to look like a leopard skin. Others are dazzled by a cage dress made of leather but dipped in gold so that it bedazzles all who behold it. A number of punk-inspired outfits look like they could have been worn in a Derek Jarman film from the ‘80s but surprisingly they were only made last year.

It’s hard to walk away from an exhibition like this without wishing that more people’s wardrobes could indulge Gaultier’s inspired flamboyance. Thankfully there were a number of fashion victims assembled in the Great Hall eagerly awaiting the zany shenanigans of Chicks on Speed. Kicking off with Utopia from last year’s album, artstravaganza, the Chicks seem intent on hosting a kitsch day-glow, Euro-trash apocalypse. These days the group is comprised of Australia’s Alex Murray-Leslie and upstate New Yorker Melissa Logan and tonight they perform with three backing dancers and a drummer who plays an electronic drum kit. Oozing anti-fashion that’s supposed to be kind of street it’s totally appropriate they’ve been booked to play tonight. Hanging off bare-boned beats there’s a superficiality about the Chicks, who don’t let their amusing ironic lyrics get weighed down with too much substance. Logan tootles on a saxophone and Murray-Leslie twangs the strings of her stiletto (real strings on a real stiletto) to produce deafening feedback.  Meanwhile their backing dancers are pulling some bizzaro dance moves and projecting video of the crowd from their iPhones. It’s the old hits, like Euro Trash Girl and their cover of Kaltes Klares Wasser, that hit the spot. While the Chicks take inspiration from old-school punk like Malaria! And X Ray Spex, it becomes unclear as to just how punk they are with tunes like Art Dump, which is the kind of song self-conscious art school dropouts might produce. Their cover of Talking Heads’ Burning Down The House might horrify those who like to vogue but the Chicks excel when they deal a fun irreverent party vibe that shouldn’t be taken too seriously.