It'd be an egregious understatement to say Pansy Division's gay rock manifestos were ahead of the curve back when the band formed in the early '90s. Way before Will and Grace and the Fab Five brought alternative men's lifestyles to prime time, singer-guitarist Jon Ginoli was tearing through explosive queer-eyed pop-punk with titles like "Touch My Joe Camel" and "Nine Inch Males." He even brandished a penis-shaped guitar.
Sure, this brazen approach elicited its share of curious glances (and nervous giggles) during the first years after the band's inception, but after they were picked up for a national tour with Green Day in 1994 (which was, like, totally at Billie Joe's prime), people started to take the Pansies a lot more seriously. As the first all-gay punk band to create a national stir, they didn't just open the closet door for other pissed-off gay punk teenagers, they kicked the motherfucker off the hinges.
It could be said that Pansy Divison's latest, Total Entertainment!, doesn't have the aggressive edge that turned so many heads in the first place. The first recorded document from the band in five years, Entertainment! moves away from the simplistic punches of their early days and the power balladeering of 1998's Absurd Pop Song Romance toward straight-ahead power pop. It's still queer-centric and dripping with sarcasm, but (pardon the pun) without the teeth. Die-hard queercore fans may bemoan the change, but the fact is: Without Pansy Division, those fans wouldn't exist in the first place.
Pansy Division performs November 29 at Hard Rock Caf.
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