New York Bowery Ballroom

Three-chord heaven may rule, but here's proof that [b]Elastica[/b] can lead their fans anywhere...

Recent dispatches from Elastica's current Stateside jaunt indicate that this is their Pants Almost Falling Off Across America Tour, and tonight's show proves no exception. A few songs into their sold-out set, vocalist Justine Frischmann tugs at her ultra-saggy jeans and declares, "Er, these might slip down." She then requests an American husband with sewing skills and access to a Green Card, prompting whoops from the men in attendance and mutters of "damn" from the women.

But the jeans stay in place throughout, providing the only suspense in a show that's as predictable as it is exuberant. This is Elastica's first New York appearance in eons, and Justine and her crew deliver precisely what their quivering fans want: pogo-worthy versions of the best songs from their debut and 'The Menace', a few suitable '77-to-'81-era covers, topped off with a surplus of ebullient stage antics. The latter come mainly courtesy of crazed-cheerleader keyboardist Mew, who only manages to hop over to her keyboards every now and then, but provides an entertainingly manic contrast to Justine's nonchalant sultriness.

The new, road-tested lineup is in fine form, gleefully speeding through older hits like 'Annie', 'Vaseline' and 'Stutter', and giving agreeably scruffy treatments to slicker 'Menace' tracks like 'Generator', 'Mad Dog' and 'How He Wrote Elastica Man'. And in a 'So what?' memo to critics who complain that Elastica are merely post-punk scavengers, the show starts with Wire's traditional encore '12XU' setting the stage for the Wire homages 'Line Up', 'Connection' and 'Human', and winking to those audience members who discovered 'Pink Flag' via Elastica.

In fact, the bouncy post-punk aesthetic is so prevalent that when the band breaks to cover ESG's art-funk classic 'Moody', the crowd doesn't know how to react to a song that calls for more hip-shaking than straight-up pogoing. So they just stand still, watching Justine coo her way through the scatty vocal line, and eventually - gradually - begin to wiggle a bit. Three-chord heaven may rule the Bowery Ballroom tonight, but here's proof that Elastica can lead their fans anywhere.

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