Review: Mannequin Pussy (+ Destroy Boys, Ellis) @ DC9 September 17th, 2019

by Maddi Rihn


Last week I boarded the train, walked, and arrived at DC9 Nightclub on what felt like the very cusp of fall. I felt the uncertainty in which the wind and sun act on days in early September - cool, then hot, then cool again. Perhaps a good metaphor for the feelings that Mannequin Pussy’s newest album, Patience, invoked in their listeners this past June (and, especially for me, all summer).

Released on Epitaph Records this past June, Patience reaches polar opposites of the expressive spectrum, the epitome of “soft and mean,” chaotic and vulnerable, cathartic and repressive, punk and indie, simultaneously breaking down the barriers between these antonyms, pushing the possibility of overlap. It’s something that singer/guitarist Marisa Dabice even brought up in the droning intermission between songs during this show:
“It’s taken me some time to put this into words...but I believe there is an intersection...between anger and kindness.”

Like water so hot it feels like ice - not a binary, but a spectrum, an overlap, a circle. The vulnerability in being angry, the passion in spreading kindness.
This punk/indie dichotomy is something expressed, I think, in the show lineup as well. First was Ellis, an Ontario-based synthy-sad bedroom-pop group featuring the songwriting of singer/guitarist Linnea Siggelkow, followed by Destroy Boys, an energetic post-riot-grrl garage rock quartet from Sacramento.

Ellis was the perfect opening act to this show. Prefacing it with the caveat, “this song is about the worst night of my life...I hope you enjoy it,'' Siggelkow went into the song Frostbite with a mellow, almost unaffected intonation, like being numb from too long in the cold. She speaks her lyrics, including the incredibly poignant chorus of “now I wish that I never knew you, I never knew you…,” with such a mellowness, such indifference, an emptiness quickly filled with the energy of her performance. She repeatedly turned to her bandmates throughout the set, strumming passionately and forcefully on her guitar. Ellis’ music is the disappointing sting of being pushed over by desire, brought to life by synth-lined stoic recitation in the chorus.

Destroy Boys immediately evoked, for me, the feminist ethos of bands like Camp Cope, combined with the fierce, scrappy energy of D.C.’s Hemlines. Alexia, Destroy Boys’ vocalist/guitarist, started the set guitarless on the stage, in classic punk frontperson style. Their set was riddled with calls to action (an all-girl-and-non-binary-person pit, a wall of death on DC9’s compact floor space), and frequent visits to the floor, deconstructing the wall between performer and audience.

During the rest of Mannequin Pussy’s set, Marisa continues to reflect on these dichotomous descriptors, both overtly and not. MP’s lyrics are both vulnerable and blunt when they need to be, performed with unrestricted chaos, but also sentiment. Throughout the performance Marisa used hand motions, reached out to the audience, clutched her chest, as if to make a physical transfer of feeling from music to listener. She remarks on the necessity of the transformation of anger into creation, into art, into kindness and care for your neighbor, because if not, it will slowly eat away at you - “it will make you easier to control”. (Side note: deja vu; why do I feel like I get preached to every time I come to DC9?)

Maybe that transformation is the purpose of this album after all. A big fuck you to everyone that messed with you, a lamentation of loss, but also hope and an openness to connection. It’s filling that hole, that lack, with love. (At one point during their set Marisa remarked, “I love love...especially when it’s fucked up”. She quickly added, “but not when it’s toxic”.)
Patience is summer car rides, it is freedom, it is routine, it is crying when you need to and yelling when you want to. It is burying, mourning, containing to the summer that that has died, feeling the fall on the horizon with a sense of rebirth. Everyone gather round, I have the answer now! The insecurity of a new era. Hope that hasn’t been felt in a long time.