a Joan girl or a Lita girl, and my reply was "The fact that I even understand that question should tell you the answer," implying, of course, the correct, indie-cred-assuring answer, Joan. But honestly, I was sort of lying. I don't think liking, being influenced by, (or at least respecting) Joan and Lita are mutually exclusive. Sure, I lean Joan. I heavily lean Joan. But there's always been a place in my heart for a badass like Lita.
I'm pretty sure Binky Tunny heavily leans Lita. Like Lita, she's a glam metal chick with impressive guitar chops and an arresting voice that works with whatever dynamic is called for. But Binky doesn't hate Joan and the whole alternascene like Lita does. Binky covers the Ramones. Binky covers Courtney. Shit, Binkly out-covers Hole's "Celebrity Skin" and lists Liz Phair among her influences. Binky's a guilt-free metal treasure for us Joan girls. Heck, you know where she was before she loaded in her gear Saturday night? At the Morrissey show that I was debating on going to!
I finally got my ass out for the Binky Tunny experience at The Main Stage in Waukesha, which was the correct context to see her and the current incarnation of her band, The Farmland Chokehold. Typical Saturday night at a typical rawk bar. Apparently half the crowd is there not to see the band, but because The Main Stage is a hangout where the folks can count on not having to hear Michael McDonald but still shoot a few games of pool. I caught the last three songs of Spiral Trance, a death metal outfit that's got a pretty good SW Wisconsin following (not to mention staying power, how long have they been slogging it out?) Hmmmm, did I say death metal? Based ont the numbers I heard, I need to add a few more adjectives. Power death metal. Melodic power death metal. And based on their stage demeanor, Fun. That's right, fun, almost playful death metal. You could tell by their faces these guys don't sit at home brooding about how much the world sucks and we're all not going to hell because we're living it here anyway. No, these guys love life, and love overdriven guitars and love performing on stage, and love heavy fucking metal because its fun. Maybe I'm lightening them up too much, since I only caught three tunes, but they seemed to be having a good time, their fans (lots of braless metal chicks bouncing about) are having a good time, and the lead singer almost winks at you with his nod to Alice Cooper stage demeanor.
snaps off noodly arpeggio riffs, her face contorts as the rest of her body bends and breaks and wraps itself around her guitar. Then, she grabs a beer, recites some Morrisey that is lost on 80% of the people there, and goes into some poetry of her own as she steps down from the stage and literally begs the crowd to listen to what the hell she's saying. Except it's not Morrissey's brooding melancholy, it’s the song that should make her a cult heroine: "I Am A Delicate Flower." Do I need to tell you that this isn't exactly sung like she was Lisa Loeb? No, Binky is a delicate fucking flower who's going to splatter pollen all over your damn face if you don't tell her she's pretty.
OK, she's got some people's attention now. A birthday gift to one of her friends that's in the audience is a trio of Ramones covers, and then she's back to her metal roots. And what would a metal band be without a song about how exactly you want yer lovin? Binky's entry, which shamefully went right over the heads of most of the guys with their sticks and balls, is "Love Me Like A Pussycat," complete with girls invited to come on state and meow at appropriate times, and Binky spelling it out for you the virtues of Pussycat Love and singing to you the female version of that old joke about why dogs lick their balls. There's no subtlety here, and judging by the crowd tonight, they needed to be clubbed over the head on the issue. And then, as stated previously, she covers Hole, after a quick debate as to whether Courtney killed Kurt, was simply in on it, or (audience consensus) was covering for Dave Grohl. By the end of the set, she's back in Lita-world, rolling about the stage and firing off Yngwve Malmsteen-esque guitar runs. This is a woman feminine enough (and confident enough in that femininity) to pull off testosterone-fueled music and stage demeanor, and beat guy rockers at their own game. Why does a dog lick his own balls, indeed?
The set is over and I'm exhausted from a long day (which included a grueling session at Bucketworks helping plan their impending move). Plus, I have to drive all the way home from Waukesha, so I wave to Binky, who looks a tad tired herself. She's just poured out a show deserving of a packed house at the Rave to a bunch of disinterested boys playing with their sticks and balls.