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The Scarlet & Black

Cait Reviews the Iowa Arts (ob)Scene: Plack Blague

Plack Blague brought industrial-dance sound to the Iowa City Yacht Club. Contributed photo.

When my esteemed colleague Abby Frerick ’21 and I descended the musty staircase to the dungeon-esque basement of the Iowa City Yacht Club on Friday, March 1, neither of us had any familiarity with Plack Blague. The image I had constructed in my mind about the leather band was based solely on a few posts on the event’s Facebook page promising “balls out industrial madness” and “studded jocks, leather jackets and filth ridden hoods.”

Perhaps I was attracted to this event by nature of my particularly greasy strain of lesbianism, a pining for a sort of sexual shock that permeated my angsty youth spent listening to Limp Wrist and pirating 90’s leatherdyke documentaries on the internet. Or perhaps I wanted to escape the aesthetic of electronically-mediated sexual cowardice prevalent of Grinnell’s gay scene and remind myself that raw, unrestrained queer sexuality exists somewhere, just loitering inside of a grimy bathroom stall. Regardless, Plack Blague melted my damn face off in that dusty basement last Friday and left Abby and me in a state of Sapphic euphoria that only hard cider and heavy synth can deliver.

The moment Raws Schlesinger, Plack Blague’s frontman and main provocateur, stepped onto the stage, I believe I let out an audible yelp. I was practically giddy seeing that spike-laden jockstrap glimmer under the barrage of strobe lights, costumes already exceeding my expectations for the Blague experience. Schlesinger, whose movement mediated between dispassionate voguing and literal air humping, was the perfect conduit for the Blague’s violent synth jams, serving equal parts No Coast Grindcore and disco remix of Bette Midler’s “Knight in Black Leather.”

Despite the fact that Abby and I were criminally underdressed in the crowd of masked pups and cigar-wielding daddies, neither of us felt out of place in the hypnotic pulse of synth and bass which was as infectiously danceable as it was wholly abrasive. The constant drumming of electronic loops and synth chords perfectly conveyed a continuous, unmediated stream of erotic energy, mimicking the steady flow of desire proliferated through anonymous cruising glances and gloryholes. During a particularly energetic performance of “Boyz Club,” I found myself aggressively jumping up and down, desperately trying to match the chaotic industrial energy being produced on stage within the confines of this tiny bar, as I yelled to Abby, “THIS RULES SO HARD!”.

Blague’s sexual provocations seemed less shocking than liberating for the crowd of leather daddies and miscellaneous Iowa City basement-attendees. When Schlesinger interrupted the performance to make-out with his Rob Halford-doppelganger partner on stage, the entire bar erupted into delighted screams and whooping (myself included).

Perhaps Blague’s greatest aesthetic achievement is their ability to transform a musty bar into a no-holds-barred industrial rave for perverts and gays. I don’t know. But I urge every reader needing an escape from the humdrum and discourse-driven outrage cycle of gay Grinnell to do one simple thing: get Blagued.

Plack Blague brought industrial-dance sound to the Iowa City Yacht Club. Contributed photo.
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