Here at the recently refurbished East Village Arts Club in Liverpool which has since hosted the likes of Liverpool Sound City festival, Kate Nash and The Fall, we’re here to catch the Brazilian phenomenon that is CSS. The band otherwise known as Cansei de Ser Sexy (“I got tired of being sexy” in Portuguese) have produced some of the most memorable songs of the noughties, including the delicious “Let’s Make Love and Listen to Death From Above” and funky “Music is My Hot Hot Sex” both used on many a commercial, one by that tiny company named after a rather common fruit.
The Sao Paolo now-foursome (plus drummer) are supported tonight by another Brazilian band MIXHELL, who are taking to the stage, all dressed in bright red and bathed in red light (sorry, photographers). The womb-like atmosphere is now filled with electronics and beats steely enough to chill the bones. Lead singer Laima Leyton is often at the deck, sometimes at the mic, accompanied throughout by the pounding drums of former-Sepultura drummer Iggor Cavalera and solid guitarwork from Max Blum. Iggor leaves no breath between tracks as he slams the drums practically non-stop. The venue which was half-full on arrival is now filling up with this fascinating mix of rock, electronica, techno, disco, soul… After Laima has taken us to “the Edge” (great track), has asked us to go discoing with her, and has kindly offered to relieve us of our dull lives (“We want your soul”), we’re ready to breathe and gather ourselves for the band we have all come to see.
In surprisingly un-diva-like fashion, CSS slink onto the stage quietly… but hang on, Luisa Matsushita aka Lovefoxxx is dressed in a gloriously elaborate cloak with gold lining, so the diva is among us! Looking like something that crawled out of a TV screen in a certain Japanese horror movie with her seriously unkempt long hair, sporting curious war-paint make-up and apparently in her PJs (albeit a nice colourful pair), she hasn’t let us down. Singing opener “Hits Me Like A Rock” with gusto, she eyes up the photographers, egging them on to take their keeper shots – this is a lead singer who knows exactly what she’s doing, and is having a lot of fun doing it.
The brilliant “Move” (which so makes you want to dance like a maniac in the sun, alas we’re in the north of England…) gets her really buzzing. Like a dynamo that won’t let up, she shakes her booty (with crazily infectious dance moves) and cannot wait to get up close to her people. “It’s not over yet!!” she yells as she shrouds herself in the cloak. Still hidden, she introduces the band, thanks the audience and chatters away, seemingly to herself, but we’re loving the bizarreness…
New track “Honey” sees Lovefoxxx finally emerge, dramatically holding up the edges of her cloak peacock-style, revealing the shimmering lining. She then removes it and tosses it aside, after throwing it around a few times, of course. “I want to see you all touching the ground!” she appeals… but this is Liverpool and people are shy here, so nobody obliges.
“Music is My Hot Hot Sex” is just one of the best songs ever written, as Lovefoxxx now unrestrained by her cloak spends a good part of the song on the stage edge waving her arms in the air as if to cast a spell over the crowds who are fast realising that the band is having more fun than they are, and feeling a little left out, decide to join in. She closes the track in a ‘diva’ pose and the crowds love it.
Gorgeous electro track “I Love You” has Lovefoxxx trying to engage the crowds again as she points the mic to them so that they can shout back “I love you too” – a few die-hard CSS fans yell back (*phew*). Come on, Liverpool.
But things change with the next track: “It’s time to lip-synch for your life!” threatens Lovefoxxx and the venue finally starts bouncing when they hear the iconic intro to “Let’s Make Love…” Swinging the mic around, she’s now in her element, having finally ensnared her audience for the rest of the night. “This venue’s so amazing – it’s so beautiful,” she gushes as the track ends. A girl from the front row is trying to say something, so she leans over the pit whereupon the girl kisses her on the cheek. It’s a sweetly intimate moment, and Lovefoxxx doesn’t seem to mind one bit.
We’re straight into banging new track “Dynamite” and the venue is now aflame. We just can’t wait for their new album “Planta” which is due to drop on 11 June. Lovefoxxx hasn’t finished with us, and asks everyone in the venue to “look around and make friends… like Joey, Rachel, Monica… let’s get together!”
She slams the deeply cynical “City Grrrl” and while belting out the next tracks, gives up on the stage, climbs into the pit and walks along the barrier to sing to the crowds. But there’s more to come – she mischievously grabs some pink rubber gloves lying around and puts them on, grabbing the mic with one pink-gloved-up hand, the band carrying on as normal – it’s all very surreal, and well, very CSS. They end the set with newly released “Hangover” and leave the stage, but we’re pretty sure not for long.
As they come bouncing back on, Lovefoxxx triumphantly lifts up her mic stand with both hands, stretching it out over the heads of the crowds. Singing “Alala,” she can’t resist the front rows again and leans into them, headbanging and shaking her long locks over the crowds.
She follows this with punkrock smashout track “Art Bitch” (“I ain’t no artist / I am an artbitch / I sell my paintings to the men I eat / I have no portifolio / coz I only show where there’s free alcohol… Lick lick lick my art-tit / Suck suck suck my art-hole”), and we just want to party with CSS all night! Sadly, we have to end it, and Ana Rezende and Lovefoxxx get ready to hip-hop it out for new-ish track “Drunk” (“I’ve seen you drunk, girl / And you’re not drunk – yet!”) – the lyrics put such a smile on my face (“I get it now you’re drunk, you come up with crazy verbs / You’re face is blue, you’re kind of fucked / Girl, you look – like – a – smurf”).
Ladies and gentlemen, we have been well and truly done by the one and only CSS.