It has been nearly nine years since the first time I saw the Gossip perform at the now defunct Luxx space on Grand Street in Williamsburg, a small, sweaty show that is mythic in my memory as one of the best concerts I have ever seen, a religious experience, Beth Ditto, the evangelist, working up a sweat, filling the crowd with the spirit. I was so blown away that I saw them perform again the next night, at the Knitting Factory's old Manhattan location. I have seen them numerous times since those first times, still recalling what that first experience felt like and wanting to relive it. I have never been able to relive that first night's magic, but have come awfully close.
They are a much more popular, more known, band at this point and so play much larger venues that make that type of experience near impossible. Last night, I made the trek over to Terminal 5 on the far west side of midtown Manhattan to see them play along with CREEP and Ssion.
I was already drenched in sweat by the time they event took the stage, having danced hard for Ssion, who were really fantastic, and who I am liking more and more as a band each time I see them perform. When they played "Psy-chic," I lost a mind a little, arms flailing all over the place, trying to physically express how happy that song makes me.
The Gossip played a long set, taking the stage around 9:45 and ending near midnight. Along the way, the band played many gems that set the crowd dancing and screaming and Beth worked in bits of covers into several of her songs, doing brief versions of Bikini Kill's "Rebel Girl," Talking Heads' "Psycho Killer," Black Sabbath's "War Pigs" (though now I am doubting that I am remembering that cover correctly), Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit," and of course, the show closer that Beth did, the preacher we would only be so lucky to actually have, leading an a cappella singalong to Whitney Houston's "The Greatest Love of All."
It was a fantastic show. I left soaked in sweat and with no voice, my throat sore from screaming. I had to buy a bottle of water at the subway station to rehydrate myself. It was the best kind of feeling to have after a concert - absolute physical exhaustion paired with awe and bliss and inspiration. I had wavered about buying tickets until only a couple of days before, thinking that either I was too old for this band or this band was too old for me now, too big now for the experience that I wanted. I am so glad that I purchased tickets despite my doubts. It was absolutely amazing.