L.A.-based art-punk outfit Hit Bargain has never been gentle. From walking on a trampling fetishist during one of its shows to using a bright red butt plug-shank as cover art for its latest record, Potential Maximizer, the band — Nora Singh, Mike Barron, Anton Hochhiem, Sean Robert Monaghan — uses BDSM imagery and bold tactics to create conversation around gender, power, and political dynamics.
Singh, the band's frontwoman, says she was a late bloomer when it comes to music. Growing up in suburban Texas, she says there weren't many opportunities for young girls to get involved in music or play with bands. "When I was 27, I gave myself permission to be in a band," says Singh. "There wasn't rock camp for girls or anything where I grew up... I think if there had been instruments around or my parents played music then it would have just clicked for me." Once she realized how accessible music really is, she started playing in bands and using music as a vehicle for connection and activism.
Hit Bargain uses the accessibility of punk music — or what they call "queencore" — to communicate with their audience. "We're just a rock band that happens to also be a performance project," says Singh. Whether she's singing an entire song lying on the ground with a chair over her face, or donning a body suit adorned with multiple breasts for a performance, Singh uses more than just her voice to drive her point across.
She says that the goal of her performance is to connect to anyone who feels alone or out of place in the world. "Everybody's really just lonely, they're just trying to connect," says Singh. "I still see shows as a viable way to do that with people."
The theme of supporting marginalized or "outsider" groups permeates through Hit Bargain's music as well. "Capitulate," a song off the band's latest record, is about trying to help a friend who was going through a hard time navigating their sexuality as a person who identifies as queer. "I can only speak from my experience, but it seems like something that a lot of female-bodied people have trouble with, giving themselves permission," Singh explains. "Everyone should give themselves permission to be who you are and do the things that you love with the people that you love."
Singh says that her band's role as an activist force seems amplified in these times of heightened political tension. "Right now, I'm heartbroken because I'm away from my child for the first time," says Singh. "My child is 9 months old and I'm reading all this shit about other babies being ripped from the arms of their parents and I'm crying in the van." She explains that while the band is still figuring out how to address current political issues in their music, she hopes they can at least give audiences a chance to escape from the lunacy of reality. "Music is a very democratic thing, we all have it in us some way or another," says Singh. "It's a ritual we can all participate in, or an escape from all these things that are happening."
Hit Bargain will perform on Thursday, June 28 with the Free Bleeders and Jonathan Franco at Trixie's Bar; 2656 Carpenter St., Hamtramck; 313-316-5376; facebook.com/trixiesbarhamtramck; Doors at 9 p.m.; Tickets are $6.
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