The Oslo, London
Take everything you may think you know about Flossing and throw it out the window. Bleeding gums, backpack kid dance, peacocking all of it. Nothing is as it seems anymore, was it ever? This article? Not an article, more a sandwich of thoughts. Flossing? Not about hygiene any longer. The Oslo isn’t even that Nordic place as far as we’re concerned, it’s a London PLACE! Tie a waxy taped bow around your finger or you might just lose your mind and need to fetch the back-up. We’re diving into a two-piece straight outta Brooklyn.
I’m 17 stories up above central L. Watching a plane float by, presumably heading towards LCY, it could just as easily be heading into infinity along with my train of thought. Either it, or I, are so close to each other that I feel I can swat it down. I sort of want to. Why the prelude? Because spirits were even higher two stories up last Thursday watching Flossing slap the shit out of a set down at The Oslo. Leaning against the bar, I nearly lean into J Dangerous of Italia 90, watching the game. We chat about Flossing while waiting for the industrial and perforated dark duo to take the stage. The bands are label mates and we learn in February, Italia 90’ll be cleaning up at the 100 Club. More on that in February though. Tonight, was about a should-be headliner.
Heather, A.K.A. Flossing, stepped out onto the stage just after 8:30 with a light-footed confidence soon followed by beats sparing no heft. Although up until recently residing somewhere between a fill light and the spotlight (BODEGA/The Wants), a voice with a presence pierces through on this particular eve. Their music, rhetoric, lifestyle, identity, and mantra is, in a word, EXPLOSIVE. Elle’s got their boot heel on the neck of the fascists with a -cut the shit out- sound coming for you next. Elle is all about getting between your bones and seeing what you pull out. Feelings of frustration and yearning permeate the ominous-yet-buoyant, where she admits - “I am both scared of and intrigued by the deviant nature of man.”
Although soundcheck goes well, the mic hasn’t gotten the message. Completely unfazed, Heather weathers the glitch breathing life, along with a pulsing wail, into their mic. The howls reverberate off the walls like a banshee. Stunned, watching this, my thoughts scream there is something absolutely raw and fearless about a two piece on stage. The last time we caught a two piece on this very stage was circa 2017 when Laura and Steven, A.K.A. Blood Red Shoes woke the entire East Side up with their set. Tonight, Elle’s music hit the mark, blasting drums, synthesonic-sega-16 bit-mega-drive wrapped in a nod to Reznor, but although their performance shook the audience, something harder cut deeper, something intangible got inside me, begging for further investigation.
When ‘Switch’ dropped in 2021, it got a lot of recognition. It also got heaps during their set. What caught my ear was, “I won’t bite, but I like getting bitten every now and then. You’re a lot like me, do you see yourself inside me?” During our deep dive, we came across some barnacles and a chin-wag from yesteryear; ‘I’m not attacking people, I am discovering who I am again. Confidence, or a lack there of, was a huge factor, it is for a lot of women, we are told to be quiet and demure and not be assertive or aggressive, and we have literally been bred this way. Any women who spoke out or revolted in the past were murdered or abused to the point of silence.”
Throughout the gig there was something deeply profound that resonated inside us that we couldn’t quite put our finger on. Even a boring cis-dude like myself could pick up on the subtle subtext. Yes, the music was awesome, the lyrics were a playful balance between comical, introspective, and murderous, and the drum-kit/bass combo absolutely smashed but there was more to it than that. Watching Heather own that stage, having learned that less than three years ago they were gripped by major insecurities surrounding their identity, musical ambitions stunted in former male bandmate’s shadows, were owned seemingly seamlessly on stage nursing a budding and successful solo career, is nothing short of inspirational. Watching Heather, Flossing, Elle shed the skin of her past life is uplifting in these bleakest, for some, of times. Identifying with their struggles on a journey of personal development shouting, ‘I can do it, so can you!’ bridges the gap between us as people. It helps you walk away from their performance, if only for a fleeting moment, as whole and energized with whisps of hope. Flossing began their journey, solo, but now they’re far from alone anymore, and if you’re reading this, neither are you. Touring in the UK resumes in February 2023, don’t miss it.