Ari Up, lead singer for first-generation punk band the Slits, looked absolutely thrilled to be playing the Troubadour on Friday night, a broad grin practically pasted to her face. She had good reason to be happy.
Ari Up, lead singer for first-generation punk band the Slits, looked absolutely thrilled to be playing the Troubadour on Friday night, a broad grin practically pasted to her face. She had good reason to be happy. The show was not only a family affair (her twin sons — born in Culver City, she informed the surprisingly young and enthusiastically moshing aud — and her mother were in attendance) but a triumph, a gleefully shambolic hour of music proving that the 30 years since they formed in London (and almost 25 since they last toured) haven’t tamed the Slits’ exhilarating, jaggedly exploratory rock/dub synthesis.
The sound has been revived nearly intact and remains remarkably fresh. It’s primitive and propulsive, with new member NO’s serrated guitar licks cutting across Tessa Pollit’s tumbling Jamaican-inflected basslines as Ari chants and wails over the top.
“Shoplifting” is a raucous broken-field sprint, the instruments jostling for position. The band members enjoyed playing it so much, they immediately reprised it, bringing members of the aud (most not even born when the band was active) onstage to sing along.
The music is so much of a piece that all three songs from their new EP, “The Revenge of the Killer Slits” (Saf Records), slipped in seamlessly with songs from 1979’s “Cut” and Ari’s various reggae covers. With bands as self-consciously primitive as the Slits, there’s always a danger that as they become more competent musicians, it becomes apparent that their appeal was their lack of proficiency. That, happily, is not the case here: The Slits remain noisily unique, which should be enough to put a smile on anyone’s face.