[picture via Bombaykino's Flickr
In small clubs and venues around New York, artists have made it a point to tone it down. "Hip" bits like chillwave and shoegaze emphasize the mellowing out of performers and audience alike, and in a drug infused tizzy, it's easy to enjoy a coma-like state during a performance, especially with a PBR in one hand and a bottle of pain killers in the other (kids these days). However, performers like the ones flaunting their freakiest costumes at MSG last evening are from a decidedly opposite school of thought: music should be fast, loud, and glamorous. These are the kinds of acts that need a big stage, and an even bigger set of cojones, to put it all out there for the world to see. We went to Madison Square Garden, and we saw it all go down.
Semi Precious Weapons
, for all their schtick, know how to rev up an audience, as proven by their relatively shook up floor crowd. They stated their relationship with the Lady, a few early shows in and around New York City in her early days (presumably when she was known as Stefanie Germenotta). It is easy to forget that Lady Gaga
the international weirdo sensation, is a real person, from a real place (Long Island, not exactly the city that the facade on stage was claiming), but they humanized her with their story, and thus elevated their own game ("We've always thought we were f*cking superstars). Oh yes, they inserted the phrase "f*cking" into more places than once thought possible by this writer (for a moment renaming the venue The F*cking Garden, in New York F*cking City, with Lady F*cking Gaga). They flailed and flaunted and pranced and pandered. They sprayed the audience with champagne. And lead singer Justin Tranter performed a costume change on stage during an instrumental solo. To quote Aziz Ansari: you won't see that sh*t at a Modest Mouse concert.
Gaga was, of course, outdoing herself in a myriad of weirdness. This included outrageous costume changes (in the double digits for sure, and each either overstated and extravagant, or stripped next to nothing), beefcake backup dancers, routines and hip dances, and borderline silly set pieces (A subway car? Sure. "The Fame Monster" Jim Henson puppet? LOLZ). But none of that was very surprising. The ability of Semi Precious Weapons to be incredibly bold and humbling with their "garage glam" (all Berkley School Of Music graduates, all fairly dependable musicians in their own right, all very, very flamboyant) was kind of an interesting twist to the evening. They married Gaga's million dollar show well, and they did it with a tight budget and a Mick Jagger haughtiness. They didn't quite answer the question of being able to sell their music as rock n' roll, sex, and lower Chelsea living, but they did prove that showmanship didn't die in the digital age, and it is not reserved for bands formed before 1985, or pop sensations who rely on synthesizers and back tracks.
As hilarious as the beer-can hairstyles and tight, tight clothing made the kids seem, it was clear that they view Brooklyn's avant-garde as the same subset of ridiculousness. A fad is a fad, wether it's Converse sneakers and Animal Collective, or Glam-rock and spraying champagne. Potato, potato. In the end, you fry it, and it tastes the same... depending on who is doing the frying. -joe puglisi
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Lady Gaga on Myspace
Semi Precious Weapons on Myspace