Harlequin Baby takes light antics, dark material to Jose’s.
Thursday, April 1, 2010
Harlequin Baby is a rare skin disease. It’s also a Santa Cruz experimental-electro-pop group featuring Hana Vomit, Bubbles, Duckie and Crystal Mess.
“I don’t think of them as a band; I think of them as my friends who I play music with,” says Bela “Bubble” Messex, the beat constructor. “They’re the closest people in my life besides my family.”
For its live shows, the quartet’s known for employing wild theatrics and sporting innovative getups. “Usually Crystal ends up on the floor screaming into the mike,” Messex says. “We’ve all performed with clothes missing and in drag.”
Their shows are free-form spectacles that are part Wavy Gravy, part Chicks on Speed. But Harlequin’s quirky antics contrast sharply with dark lyrics that delve into subject matters like abuse, depression, queer bashing and gender identity.
“Make it Stop” lurks with hypnotic trance beats and a bass line that sounds like it’s from a Sly and the Family Stone song. In it Hana’s breathy vocals cut like a serrated knife. “I learned to shake it, shake it off/ I had to take it, take it off/ I had to break it, break it off/ I had to make it work so I could make it stop.”
While drawing inspiration from queercore groups like Tracy + The Plastics, Harlequin also manages to let in the lighthearted influences of art rockers Devo. “The End of It All” resonates with an eccentric, upbeat circus melody ironically melded with pessimistic prose: “I’ll do it all for you and if I cry that’ll be the end of it all/ Till death does its part I’m left without a heart.”
Though Harlequin hasn’t officially released an album, Messex says they have two records worth of material.