Please bear with me for a brief history lesson: In the French Revolution, the sans-culottes were a dangerous element of the Third Estate. They were poor, and they wore long work pants instead of the knee-length breeches (or culottes) then in fashion.
Today, Les Sans Culottes is a rock band from Brooklyn that performs great old French pop songs and American songs translated into noticeably non-native French (“Ces Bottes Sont Faites Pour Marcher,” also known as “These Boots Are Made for Walkin’”). They also sport silly names like Edith Pissoff, Kit Kat LeNoir, and Françoise Hardly. Their promotional literature tends to translate the band’s name as “without underwear.” Revolutionary they are not.
Sorry, here’s another brief history lesson: Les Sans Culottes are not the only faux-French band from Brooklyn. The current Les Sans Culottes lineup is the result of a failed coup d’état. After his old bandmates tried to kick him out of the band, singer Clermont Ferrand took them to court. The result: He kept the name while they carried on as Nous Non Plus. Given this history, it’s hard to not judge the two bands against each other. I prefer Nous Non Plus, but given that they’re both Franco-phonies, you can’t really say that one is more authentic or valid than the other. A show by either one looks like a fun night out to me.
That said, I have to wonder how much need there is for any faux-French bands (and there are others besides these two) at a time when it’s easier than ever to hear real French acts on MySpace or YouTube.
Detroit Cobras headline.
LES SANS CULOTTES, The Casbah, Tuesday, June 10, 8:30 p.m. 619-232-4355. $15.