CSS with Foundation for Jammable Resources
Ballroom Marfa welcomed Brazilian pop sensation CSS to the Capri for a public concert and grand finale to our 2012 Benefit Weekend. The Foundation for Jammable Resources opened. This show marked the grand finale of Ballroom’s Benefit weekend, wherein we raised the funds that allow for another season of cultural programming — from visual art exhibitions to community dinners and concerts.
CSS got their start in 2003 in the city of São Paulo, taking their name from a Beyoncé quote in which the diva claimed to be “tired of being sexy,” translated into Portuguese as Cansei de Ser Sexy. Far from tired, CSS hit the international scene in 2005 running, breaking out of São Paulo and quickly cementing themselves as part of the wave of Brazilian pop culture that was cresting in the mid-2000s, as artists like Diplo and M.I.A. began exporting the sound of Rio’s favelas with compilations and mixes of the infectious baile funk sound.
CSS’ 2006 self-titled debut album was a day-glo pop update of New York’s early ’80s disco, punk, and proto-hip-hop fusions, garnering comparisons to Tom Tom Club and ESG. Lead singer Lovefoxxx often sang in Portuguese, but name-checked Brooklyn’s Death From Above 1979 in their breakout single, “Let’s Make Love and Listen to Death From Above.” The sensual allure of tracks like “Music Is My Hot Hot Sex” toyed with the sort of blatant sex appeal that can be relied upon to transcend linguistic barriers. This winking allure stemmed from an avowed interest in both straightforward pop, as well as more subversive artists — a bit of Kylie Minogue and a dash of John Waters — or as music website Pitchfork called them, “a NSFW Blondie.”
The band also displayed a potent knack for promoting their art down multiple avenues of exposure, gaining international popularity through a dynamic online presence before signing to Sub Pop in 2006. Their music played in an iPod commercial, and at one point they seemed to actively encourage the bootlegging of their tunes by including a blank CDR with a limited-edition EP.
Their two follow-up albums, Donkey (2008) and Liberacion (2011), have seen CSS diversifying their sound from the initial “joycore” or “new rave” labels, branching out into Afro-pop and reggae, as well as collaborating with dance-rock predecessors like Primal Scream’s Bobby Gillespie.
The one constant in CSS’ evolution seems to be a riveting live show, as singer Lovefoxxx has honed her bawdy swagger for years on the international festival circuit, whipping crowds into a frenzy of call-and-response vocals, stage dives, and wild dancing.