CSS – Cansei de Ser Sexy
It is not easy to listen and write about CSS, their effervescent mix of dance, electronica and art-rock is the perfect music for a party. It takes few beats and I desire to leave the mouse and begin dancing in front of the PC pretending to be as positive as they are. I cannot think anything merrier than pictures from their Christmas tour to wish all the liveon35mm readers a very happy holidays.
Back to CSS, I don’t really know how they landed this side of the world.
I imagine them as a group of castaways shipwrecked for unknown circumstances on the British shores after an adventurous Atlantic cruise. Their carnival decorated boat left their native San Paolo, Brazil, a couple of years ago but something clearly went wrong on the trip. Listening to their music it is clear they have drifted into Jamaican beaches, got stoned to find enough nerves to put the raft back to the sea, crossed the ocean in search of a new World as a 21st century Colombo going backward. They got lost on the way again, arriving sure close enough to an Ibiza’s rave to have a bit of Spanish fun and, only at that point, the survivors disembarked in England. It must have been around a Brighton beach on a warm Friday night. Five girls, one boy; their only luggage a skin-tight suit and a bunch of happy songs ready to entertain British teenagers.
One of the Sub-pop exotic branches discovered CSS and published their homonymous album. Knowing how difficult is for any non English speaking band to succeed in UK, CSS started playing incessantly their eccentric live sets until breaking into English hearts. Their luck is that NME at that time was pushing its nu-rave scene as the next big thing. Associated to the New Young Pony Club, Shitdisco and the Klaxons, CSS became a part of the movement even if their music is not exactly classifiable as London based dance-rock.
CSS name comes after a Beyonce statement who once declared she was “tired of being sexy”, Cansei de Ser Sexy in Brazilian, shorten then to CSS.
Funnily and cleverly enough they owe most of the success to the ambiguous sex message put into provocative lyrics hidden in dance-rock loops.
Fronted by the amazing Lovefoxxx, a Japanese body fit into glittery, tight suits that reveal her Brazilian attitude, shows as much self-confidence as only Gossip singer, Beth Ditto, can claim today. Her sensual cat-dance on stage is an injection of good humour for anyone who wants to escape everyday routine.
They have just come back to England for a “Christmas tour”, before going back to studio to record their somophore album. The feeling of fun showed on sunny summer festivals is retained on a stage now decorated with Christmas trees, lights, glitter and confetti flying in all places. All the band entered the stage wrapped, pretending to be Christmas gift.
Let’s make love…and listen to Death from Above as one of the hits states, is the cure to overcome any problem in the best Brazilian approach to way of life. It works indeed, Lovefoxxx warms up the British coldness in this chilly winter.
The other 5 elements of CSS don’t reach even 10% of her energy, but they do the hard job creating those soundscapes to fit with the lyrics, the atmosphere and the dancing girl.
A concert that make you feel at a (Christmas) party, a band that makes you dance, drink, smile to the rhythms of exotic origins that infiltrate the English dance scene. What better than getting what you expect?
Lovefoxxx’s boyfriend, alias Mercury prize winner Klaxons’ singer, will definitely permeate the future sound of the band with more Englishness and less Brazil, which may be a pity for world music lovers but the breakthrough move to a huge success on the same Brit Islands where they kind of shipwrecked only few months ago.
I have the feeling for CSS it is going to be Christmas everyday in the near future, for their fans is going to be incessant partying.
So, Let’s enjoy your traditional Christmas now, have fun and if you are bored by your grumpy uncle, meet back here with brand new live music recorded on B&W film.
I want to tell you about back shots for a while. Not the first thing a concert photographer is after.
Quite often it happens (to me) to be left with few frames on the last roll of film, generally when the third song abruptly ends.
In some venues, where policies are not too strict, I usually find my way to the mixer, show my photopass to the sound engineer and kindly ask if he lets me take the remaining photo to the whole stage from that elevated platform.
5 out of 10, answer is not. Other 3 I forgot my telephoto lens at home, you may have noticed I don’t really like long lens photography, so attempt is vain, sporadically it happens that I get few shots from there.
Most of them are usually not very interesting, the band gets easily lost in a dark background, the audience covers the interesting bits and the contrast is too high.
But there are some situations where it is worth trying. The best is when the stage setting is grand: lot of lights, laser, a big screen on the back (great if it has the name of the band on it). Best if the stage is quite elevated and you are even more than the stage. This avoids the first row fans to be between you and the musicians. Ultimately it works best for big ensembles, they fill up the frame and give the impression of a collective.
Find a place to hold the camera firmly, your telephoto will enhance any shaking of your hands ,light is never enough.
Happy Christmas and New Year to everyone, see you in 2008.