“They’re short,” Aurélie Poppins reassures the audience, in defense of her songs. “And sensual.”
Indeed, the band Poppins fronts, Belgium’s delightfully offensive Cocaine Piss, limits its performance to concise bursts of intense, sexy energy. With the finesse of a steamroller, set opener “Piñacolalove” expresses the anxiety of the first flush of lust. The thrashy “Treehouse” recounts, with the delicate touch of a 300-pound biker somersaulting down a flight of stairs, the revenge of a sexually conflicted girl.
From their titles alone, “Sex Weirdos,” “Incest” and “Pussy” require no exegesis.
Drawing on their tutelage under noise guru and engineer extraordinaire Steve Albini, the Pissers are highly skilled at such provocation, often flirting with the grotesque. The band squats that gritty space where Surfbort and early Bad Brains intersect. That’s a clumsy convergence, to be sure. But hardcore punk pays heed neither to subtlety nor to nuance.
And nor should it.
Poppins herself embodies this defiance of rules and propriety—qualities that define her gloriously anarchic quartet. Her shrill caterwauling recalls Japanoise siren Yasuko Onuki from Melt-Banana. She spends half of the gig pinballing through the pit and the other half face-planted on the stage. Her demeanor is both stand-offish and matronly.
But Poppins’ triumph is complete with the trashy burlesque of “Happiness.” Her interpretation captures the awkwardness and joy of self-pleasure. She tugs brusquely on her left tit and then, with a charming accent, coos jerkily “mas-tur-bah-syoh.”
So yeah, Cocaine Piss songs are short and sensual. Just like any good session of, uh, “happiness.”