Meet Nervous Gender. They’re definitely someone you should be giving thanks to.
Founded in 1978 in L.A., Nervous Gender were not only one of the first synthpunk bands, paving the way for industrial acts and bands like The Epoxies, they also were among the foreparents of queercore. Among the founders included Phranc, who later became well known as a folk singer-songwriter, and whom the song “Uncle Phranc” by Team Dresch was written about.
It’s immediately clear why Nervous Gender proved to be a huge influence on the 90’s queercore movement. Many of the members were androgynous (hence the name), and their music was harsh and incredibly confrontational. Synth takes the place of guitar, but they’re just as distorted and at times difficult to listen to. Vocals are screamed and spoken, instead of sung. “Exorcism” just devolves into an off beat clash of keyboards and yelping, and serves as a critique of Catholicism. Many of their other tracks follow a similar pattern. Nervous Gender set out to confront their audience, often in a musically brutal way. They are a hugely important group that sadly does not seem to get much recognition anymore.
Nervous Gender lasted, on and off, and in various incarnations, until the 90s. Their last show was played in 1991, but just this year, twenty years later, some of the former members recorded songs originally written in 1979 and released them on Test Tube Records.