It seems to me that Tracy + The Plastics are not as well-known as I would have thought, especially considering the project has such similarities to Le Tigre. In my sphere of progressive-minded, music nerdy friends, I am one of the few to have heard of and crush on Tracy + The Plastics.
The band was comprised of Tracy, who Greenwood embodied on stage, and her two sisters, Nikki Romanos and Cola, who Greenwood dressed and performed as, and who only appeared in video projections. Tracy, Nikki and Cola would have conversations, short but sweet commentary between these three facets of Greenwood’s personality, about things like “dyeing a log”, which stressed the importance of feminist dialogue, and including Nikki’s proclamation once that she “broke her collaboration bone”. The performances were often seemingly disjointed, interrupted by these conversations that were on the surface inane or out of nowhere, and sometimes stopped entirely by “technical difficulties” involving the video or music tracks. In an article from Art Forum from 2005, Johanna Burton describes Greenwood’s usage of “the pause” and “it’s cousins the stutter, the misfeed, the misread, the breakdown and the glitch”. Greenwood utilized those methods in conjunction with her three personas, which she said in a Venus Magazine article were, for her, “company in a way…They’re therapy, dialogue and devil’s advocates. It can be kind of intimidating at times, but it’s also liberating because I can question myself and remember that it’s all really just me”. The article, I feel, has an amazing comprehensive analysis of what Tracy + The Plastics were trying to say, as well as where Greenwood is coming from in all of her art. Tracy + The Plastics were empowering in their lyrics, declaring thigs like “I want new things to look at” and “Something is wrong when you don’t even know how to fight”; they defied gender and heteronormative relationships, as Greenwood purrs on “Queerion” “I am a man you know, I’ll kiss you two times, call you tomorrow,”; and they call us to action, with lines like “Walk ahead, don’t follow” from “This Is Dog-City”.
Tracy + The Plastics toured with bigger name feminist artists like Erase Errata and Peaches. Of the four LPs/EPs Greenwood released, one is a collaboration with sassy Portland-based The Gossip. Greenwood is accomplished in many ways, not just musically. She received her MFA from Bard College in 2004, her art has been exhibited in a multitude of galleries including The Andy Warhol Museum and she created videos for Le Tigre’s live shows. Though Greenwood has not performed as Tracy + The Plastics for almost three years, the music is still catchy, the message still relevant. Critics have dismissed the music as “dull” and repetitive, but ground breaking musicianship was not exactly Greenwood’s intention. In fact, she never really even claimed to be a musician. Listen for yourself.
…And see for yourself.