Glass Candy & the Shattered Theatre

Fri Dec 6

Blackbird

A while ago, during one of Portland trio Glass Candy's rare-ish local shows, one fan hollered, "Do you know how sexy you are?" Lead singer Ida No answered matter-of-factly, "No. Why don't you tell me how sexy I am?"

The audience member refrained that night, but I'll tell you: No's photo is the screensaver for every underground art-fag I know. She's the Debbie Harry of basement shows--probably the most objectified singer around, in a scene that prides itself on not objectifying anybody. Then again, Ida is a 15-foot-tall fashion goddess who's been known to wear extra-short skirts, only to bend over and expose silver lame underwear while singing like she might bite off your head.

Portland's Glass Candy and the Shattered Theatre, whose name is currently being whispered with reverence nationally in art-punk circles, consists of Ms. No on vocals, John David V on guitar, and drummer Ginger Peach. They play minimal, early-'80s-New York-worshipping, dark art punk, traveling a path forged by Suicide and New York Dolls; their most recent release, a 7" on Troubleman Unlimited, has them covering the great Josie Cotton valley-girl anthem, "Johnny, Are You Queer," with a razor-sharp, deathly serious tone.

Glass Candy sounds better on wax than amped through a PA, though. Whereas their East Coast counterparts, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, have a massive sound that's more than the sum of its parts, Glass Candy's guitar and drums are simple (though improving), so the band relies on Ida's magnetism to pack a punch. Aside from her near-confrontational stage presence--strutting around, rolling on the floor, twitching and making eye contact--her voice has a reverb-drenched vibrato that blankets the audience like the crushed velvet of David Bowie's stretch pants. Flanking the loud, classic rock drone of Mr. V's low guitar and Peach's modern-primitive dance-drumming, Ida's guttural, cascading screams sound like the rock star dreams of a '70s art school student--mysterious, compelling, and strangely imprisoned. If you like living in a glamour-thick, nihilistic moment, Glass Candy is all about creating that rock 'n' roll feeling.