Every now and then, the opening act of a show alone is worth the price of admission -- even when it's $26.50. Here in C-Town, we are privileged to have such a joyous occasion descend upon us next Monday. Not only will the lovely and prolific songstress Ms. Ani DiFranco grace us with her presence, but she brings with her, the dynamic, gender-bending duo, Bitch and Animal (yes, those are their names).
Equal parts rock, hip-hop, spoken word and punk, B&A's performances are funky, rappin', bass-slappin' and sex-positive. They prefer stripped down instrumentation to a full band, with classically trained Bitch on bass and violin, while Animal keeps beat on djembes, steel drums, gongs and various body parts. And oddly, they both play ukulele.
Beyond their eclectic musical talents, these fury-fisted feminist rockers are also pushing the bounds of political comfort zones, and their improvisational shows contain just the subject matter your mother always warned you about: celebration of the female body, sex, the politics of misogyny, pot smoking, and the word "pussy."
Yes, these gals have "eggs" (no, not balls -- eggs).
Currently, Bitch and Animal have two CDs under their bras, the last one on DiFranco's label, Righteous Babe Records. Their third release, also on RBR, is due out in early June.
B&A originally hooked up in theater school in Chicago, got their first official gig at a small festival in Ypsilanti, Mich., and gained notoriety touring like mad in New York City and Provincetown, Mass. Their big break came in 1999, when DiFranco's merchandise manager caught one of their shows in Provincetown.
"We e-mailed her a few weeks later," said Bitch who phoned in from upstate New York, "and sent her a four-song demo tape. From that we were invited to play with Ani for one show in Amherst. Ultimately, we ended up touring Europe with her."
Soon after Europe, explained Bitch, "[Ani] called us at home one day and invited us to her studio, just to play around. So we went up there and recorded with her, about seven songs, finished the CD ... and that's how it all happened."
Lest you expect to see a straightforward rock show, Bitch and Animal also consider themselves performance artists. "I've played violin since I was four," said Bitch. "And Animal is a great percussionist. I also consider us pretty political, improvisational. And we have a sense of humor. I think that all comes through on stage."
For Bitch, influences run the gamut. They include Ani, Joni Mitchell, Stevie Wonder, poets like Nikki Giovanni and Toni Morrison, Czech violinist Iva Bittova, and the ever-endearing Muppets.
The convergence of these disparate influences, combined with their musical and theatrical backgrounds, have often led the duo's shows to be described as performance art rock.
"I do think that's accurate," Bitch added. "But I also like to describe it as tribal-titty hoe-down-funk-poetry."
Either way, Bitch and Animal are fresh breath of estrogen blowing through town on Monday night. Breathe it in while you can.
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