My name is Natalia Kills. Tonight, you are all getting killed.
On Wednesday night, Cherrytree Records’ Natalia Kills headlined the PopJustice/High Rise CMJ showcase at The Bell House in Brooklyn.
For faithful Muusers, it’s no secret I’ve always had a soft spot for Miss Kills. She kind of embodies everything I love in film, fashion and music: Dark, macabre style, carnal sexuality, and of course…killer beats.
But taking my own personal taste of the equation (which is sort of silly as this is a review, I digress), it’s clear to see that noise is starting to quickly build around Natalia’s name amongst trendy art magazines and music blogs across the globe, and she proved exactly why tonight.
Last October, Ellie Goulding performed “Under The Sheets” on Later…with Jools Holland for the first time on British television. She appeared visibly nervous, concealed underneath what was then her trademark hooded sweatshirt, as her voice stuttered and cracked as if struggling to find the right note.
It’s hard to believe that the girl in that performance was the same one on stage Thursday night.
Just one year later, the singer came sauntering out on stage for her debut showcase in New York City with a cool new air of confidence. With her golden tresses now hanging free from concealment and her midriff bared in a lace (yet tasteful!) top, she displayed none of the nerves from her first televised performance. In fact, might I dare say, Ellie Goulding was giving us some new-found sex appeal.
The night’s set list was essentially a scattered version of her debut album (Lights), albeit with a few covers thrown in by Temper Trap (“Sweet Disposition”) and Midlake (“Roscoe”). Not only did she hit all the same notes as the studio versions, but she easily surpassed them, improvising riffs that displayed the full, untapped potential of Goulding’s weird, warbling vocals (sounds like an insult; totally isn’t.)
While I was expecting the show to be fantastic, I don’t think I could have anticipated the energy that was to come from the rising UK pop starlet: Goulding utterly commanded the small stage at Hiro Ballroom, thrashing around with her guitar, whirling her hair, and throwing her head back to unleash a full-bellied howl at least four or five times throughout the night. When the lyrics got bitter, she snarled; when they got emotional, her signature shaky vibrato broke each syllable of her words.
Between songs, Goulding was adorably warm and humble, cracking jokes at her own expense and winning the audience’s affections quickly. Since she was feeling a but under the weather with an ear problem, she took a couple breaks to take a sip from her drink (“apple juice–just apple,” she’d unconvincingly repeat to us) and chat with the audience.
“I know a lot of you guys know me from my stuff over in the UK,” she began at one point as the bulk of the crowd began to cheer, “And then you other people who are here–um, I don’t really know why you’re here,” she giggled along with the audience. “But that’s great! It’s great.”
While it was an amazing show throughout, the greatest performance of the night (aside from the encore’s surging performance of “Starry Eyed”) came during her album’s closing song, “Salt Skin.”
Aside from providing spot-on delivery, Goulding took the track to another level by pulling out a pair of drumsticks and going to town on what was an utterly killer drum solo. At that point, the entire crowd turned quiet as she launched into her brief frenzy, seemingly awestruck (you could tell as the camera’s came fumbling out from every direction), and at last bursting into an eruption of cheers upon the final few bangs. (Watch the video above–it’s a must!)
Before tonight, I’d always maintained a quiet skepticism that Ellie Goulding might not have been more than a one-time pet project on behalf of producer Starsmith than a talent in her own right. That doubt has since been squelched.
With one of her first performances in America, the winner of the BBC’s Sound of 2010 proved why her name is deservedly attached to that title–and how capable she is of continuing to soar as a star for years to come.
Wait, isn’t that Adam Lambert and Amanda Lepore?
Fair warning: My experience at the Scissor Sisters concert involved a great deal of celebrity ogling, thanks to a very kind VIP pass courtesy of the band. Shameless name-dropping and self-absorbed ramblings begin…NOW.
As we made our way into Terminal 5 on Wednesday night, my friends and I quickly hustled through the crowd and took our spot to the right of the stage, dancing like fools to the very good remixes being played by DJ Sammy Jo (There was Kylie playing!) and getting pumped up Jersey Shore style.
Though my good friend (and loyal Muuser) Parker and I had received VIP passes for access to the balcony above, we ultimately decided that it would be more fun to simply dance with our other friends at the show within the general admission crowd. Well, at the time anyway.
“Wait, isn’t that Adam Lambert and Amanda Lepore?” someone in our group asked, pointing up toward the aforementioned balcony. With a quick glance, it was confirmed: That was indeed Adam Lambert, guy-liner and all. And as for Lepore? Well, she has a way of sticking out like a sore, swollen thumb.
“Yeah okay, maybe we should go up there,” I decided.
And so, Parker and I shoved our way out of the pack, rushing to every corner of the venue desperately trying to find our way up the stairs. We eventually did (it’s in the back by the bar!), climbed our way up and, with a flash of the VIP bracelet (~glamourous~), we were up there too.
Instantly, the mood changed. It was more calm surely, but there was a strange buzz in the air. Like everyone just knew there were a gaggle of celebrities and socialites standing about. The faces started to look familiar: Club kids and scenesters swarmed about, including boys wearing glittery shoes and coat jackets with pom-poms glued to the collars. There was also a long-haired man wearing white who I’m vaguely confident was Jesus Christ himself.
Nonetheless, we elbowed our way closer until we finally reached Mr. Glambert. For a pop star, he was looking fairly understated, wearing a simple gray tee and black gloves. When we reached him, he was just sort of standing there waiting around behind his more extravagant looking entourage.
Okay, so look: I didn’t want to be perceived as an obnoxious fan boy standing around waiting for a photo at a concert. Believe me: I was there for the Scissor Sisters first and foremost. But how in the fuck was I going to prove that I was standing in the VIP balcony with Adam Lambert? I needed a photo.
Taking a deep breath, I tapped him on the shoulder (it felt like glitter, for the record), and said “I’m sorry. Can I have a picture?” He shrugged and said sure, turned around, and allowed Parker to snap the above shot. As you can see, there was a sad case of the blurs upon review, but I just couldn’t work up the courage to tap him again. Besides, he was already giggling along with his friends anyway. NONETHELESS MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.
Slowly but surely, the balcony grew more jam-packed. More glitterati filled the narrow aisle, and we started getting pushed back into the wall. “Maybe we should go back down,” I started to say.
“Look at that table,” said Parker, pointing in front of us. I read the place-holder resting on top: ‘Reserved for Katy Perry.’ And, at the table directly to the left: ‘Reserved for Drew Barrymore.’
“Yeah okay, so maybe we should stay,” I decided.
About five minutes later, a small troupe wormed their way through the velvet rope. It was Miss Purry herself, looking gorgeous in a leopard mini-dress. I immediately noticed her hair, which looked extra fabulous. I guess it’s either new or I just didn’t notice when I saw her perform on Live On Letterman, but she now has luscious strands of blue and red scattered within (I guess she’s really loving up that candy-coated theme lately).
So there I was, sandwiched behind Katy Perry, Adam Lambert, Susan Sarandon, Amanda Lepore, and Drew Barrymore, leaving me no choice but to do what has always come naturally: I stood there awkwardly. I mean, what else does one even do in these situations? I had no idea.
As the lights dimmed, the crowd downstairs began to roar and the Scissors took to the stage. Even in the VIP section, the buzzing bodies took to their respective places and began looking on eagerly. Sadly, we quickly discovered that if we weren’t standing directly against the banister among the celebrities (which we were not), we weren’t going to see much happening on stage–especially standing at 5′ 4″. And so, we decided to rush back into the crowd downstairs.
For a good story’s sake however, I am heretofore claiming that it was solely because I couldn’t see past Katy Perry’s head. It’s basically the truth!
As we rushed back down the stairs, the grinding sounds of “Night Work” kicked into the speakers. Parker and I quickly squeezed back into the main audience during the second verse of the song. Although we couldn’t get as deep into the crowd as where we stood prior to what I shall refer to as ‘the balcony situation,’ we still had a pretty good view of the stage (and Del Marquis’ crotch–I DIGRESS).
Throughout the night, the Sisters would bang out a bulk of their incredible album released in July, Night Work including “Fire With Fire,” “Any Which Way,” “Something Like This” and “Skin This Cat,” as well as favorites from their past records, including “I Don’t Feel Like Dancin’,” (which got the entire venue moving) “Tits On The Radio” (which got the entire venue vamping), and “Take Your Mama” (which had the entire venue crooning at the top of their lungs).
Every member of the troupe supplied their own flare of personality to the stage: From Babydaddy‘s cool swagger, to Jake Shears‘ unstoppable sexy, to Ana Matronic‘s endless attitude and vamp, to Del Marquis‘ stoic, cocky strumming. Admittedly, I did end up swooning a bit hard for Mr. Marquis and his tight black leather pants as the show went on. Again, I digress.
There were also a few delicious introductions before songs, as with “Skin Tight.” While taking a quick breather before launching into performance, Shears explained that the song was dedicated to his boyfriend who–after eleven or twelve weeks of touring–finally fucked him the night before. A sweeping “Aww…” came across the crowd, along with whistles, cheers and cat calls. A precious moment, no doubt.
“Skin This Cat” was a personal favorite, as Mizz Matronic came strutting out with the band’s sexified, lace-and-leather back-up singers and purred the song’s gloriously sexy lyrics along with some rather frisky choreography. Meeeow. (Hint: IT’S ABOUT HER VAG.) Loved it!
For the group’s final number (at least, before the encore), Ana came center stage and told us about the inspiration for the track (“Night Life”), which came from her first club experience as a 15-year-old in Portland, Oregon. She never wanted that feeling to end, she cooed to the audience, so she vowed never to stop living like that to this very day. Now that’s the spirit of a proper disco diva, my friends.
After a quick dash off-stage for a quick change after the song, the troupe soon returned for an encore, beginning with “Comfortably Numb,” with Jake now wearing an American flag-inspired jacket (it didnt last long–the man just doesn’t take well to clothing) and Ana in a gorgeous, geometric green dress.
Then came “Invisible Light,” the song I had been patiently waiting for the entire night. I can now officially confirm that the six minute opus is, in fact, as utterly EPIC live as it is on a record. By the time that swelling, cascading break in the song came in around the five minute mark, the entire room erupted into a manic, frenzied hands-in-the-air euphoria. The moment was absolutely perfect, and no doubt the night’s shining highlight for me.
After a quick announcement of their after-party location, the band took on their final song of the night: “Filty/Gorgeous.” By the time the song was wrapping up, pure pandemonium began to ensue on stage: Jake Shears took a quick dive into the crowd, at this point wearing an ass-less latex one piece (I can only imagine the unholiness he’s experienced while being passed around in that outfit). Miss Matronic doused him in water and ripped off the top of her dress to reveal a black bra underneath. Mic stands went flying, and confetti and fake cash baring the Night Work album cover and the motto “Make Some Cash – Fuck The Rich” burst high into the air, showering the crowd. It was utter insanity in the most fierce, most glamorous rock ‘n’ roll sort of way.
“We are the Scissor Sisters, and so are YOU!” Ana shouted out as the audience roared for the final time.
The Sisters delivered an immense, electrifying performance for their adoring fans in New York City. It was an endlessly fun experience–not to mention an impressive display of the band’s talent and professionalism.
Honestly, I wasn’t even that close to the stage for the show, and I still had such a blast. The band is just so much fun! An amazing experience, without a doubt.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to take a call: My new BFFs Kitty Purry and Glambert are tots blowing up my phone right now.
Many thanks to Parker F. for the photos (and upcoming videos).
“Where da fuck is you at, ho?”
On August 5, the All Hearts Tour made its final stop at Webster Hall in New York City, featuring the Far East Movement, Dan Black, Kelis, and Robyn. I attended that concert, and this is what I have to say about it.
When my friend Eric and I arrived at Webster Hall around six, the bar was already full with waiting fans buzzing about. After claiming our free Cherrytree Records label sampler on the sidewalk (Natalia Kills! Agnes! Kelis and Robyn!), we quickly squeezed into the stuffed room, running in the moment the doors were finally opened to the crowd.
The priorities were immediately taken care of: “Don’t Fucking Tell Me What To Do” tee? Check. Front row positioning? Check. Camera settings test? Check. And so began the wait.
Almost immediately after we wedged our way into the front of the crowd–about three rows deep at that point–the tour openers came out in rapid succession. Far East Movement provided some danceable, LMFAO-friendly party anthems (perhaps a bit too similar in moments) and Dan Black his indie-electro pop anthems, I have to be honest: I was there solely for Robyn and Kelis. As a result, I don’t have much to say about them. Sorry about it.
Then came the ‘air situation,’ which will do me no favors in perpetuating stereotypes about Jews and the heat. While the AC seemed to circulate during the first two openers, it was painfully, disgustingly apparent that it had completely ceased by the time Dan Black and crew cleared the stage. It deeply displeased the gays.
“Bitch, get out here already!” whined one. “Someone turn on a damn fan!” came another. There was also my personal favorite: “Da fuck you at, ho?”, which resulted in a smattering of giggles each time. Despite the various attempts to fan ourselves and/or disrobe, the body glitter was fast beginning to drip down to the floor.
At around 8:30, the lights dimmed, the microphone glowed fluorescent, and Kelis took to the stage. The singer, dressed in a shimmering metallic blue one-piece catsuit not unlike her Sea Monkeys-inspired piece, smiled calmly and began to launch into a mini-monologue about tolerance and unity. I think, anyway.
Sadly, the crowd mostly drowned out her words. “I’m trying to get you guys to answer back,” she half-whined, laughing deeply and rolling her eyes. She returned to her initial point: “I will not judge,” she instructed us to repeat. “I will not judge!” The crowd responded. “…Because we control the dance floor,” she commanded. The crowd returned the call. She repeated it again; the crowd thunderously echoing it back. There. That was better.
Before the crowd could applaud their group effort, the grinding synthesizers of Kelis’ gay anthem, “Emancipate” rocketed into the venue, turning the entire floor into a ballroom of fierce poses and snapping wrists.
Kelis provided a powerhouse performance of sex, sass, and soul. Tackling some classics (“Trick Me”) and some covers (Ol’ Dirty Bastard‘s “Got Your Money”) along the way, the singer performed almost the entirety of her latest album for the crowd, including “22nd Century,” “4th Of July (Fireworks),” “Scream,” “Acapella,” and “Emancipate.” And, of course, there was “Brave.”
As you all might well already know, “Brave” isn’t just an album favorite, but one of my favorite songs of the year. So as the stinging electronic beats entered the speakers, I had what we in the industry like to call a “moment.” More specifically, I grabbed my friend’s arm–a bit too hard–and began jumping like a loon and lightly convulsing.
In contrast, Kelis played it stone cold cool with her delivery of the track, singing the song pitch perfect and stepping back during the song’s chaotic explosion of grinding synths to allow the beat to speak for itself.
“Milkshake” was, of course, another crowd favorite, made all the better (and gayer) thanks to a mash-up with Madonna‘s “Holiday.” “Work, bitchâ€¦WORK!” one group offered to my left. And so she did.
I’d like to take a moment to show some appreciation for Kelis’ hips at this point. Never have I ever seen a woman work and twerk her body the way Kelis did that night–shimmying and sashaying in a way that would have Shakira blushing.
By the time Kelis casually strutted off stage, the entire audience was consumed in a sweat, semi-stunned by the sheer energy of the singer’s performance. It was an incredible performance. How was it exactly that this concert was only halfway over?
After about a half hour of set up, the lights faded to black again. A voice-over began to announce Robyn’s arrival–sort of like an updated version of “Curriculum Vitae” from Robyn’s 2005 record. The lights began to flicker and the bass boomed, making the entire venue feel like a rocket was about to make a crash landing.
Out walked Robyn, or rather–strutted, with a cool smirk and a bossy swagger. As she took to the mic, a fat bass began to grind and electronic noises began to pulsate, prompting the singer to gyrate and moan in delight, punching the air with an energy that wouldn’t cease until the closing note of her set. And then she started to sing “Fembot.”
Gays: Do you know the part in Moulin Rouge when Zidler selects the Can Can as the dance of choice and the entire place erupts into a chaotic frenzy of dancing and screaming to the point where you couldn’t quite tell whether people were celebrating or going into epileptic shock? That was Robyn’s set.
The singer put on a show like no other, stopping just once for a swig of water and a quick sit-down in front of the keyboardist during a dance-laden set that lasted over an hour. Apart from that, she was a dancing fool; refusing to stop between songs. Instead of breaks between tracks she performed dance interludes, raging against manic strobe lights as though she were exorcising her demons for all to see.
The Robyn I saw last week at the iHeartRadio taping was hardly the Robyn on stage at Webster Hall this night. Growling, grinding, thrashing, and taunting, the singer was an unstoppable force of bossiness and brattitude. She worked the stage like no one’s business, often approaching the crowd (and myself) within an inch of touching someone’s outstretched hand, squinting her eyes and swiveling her head curiously. “Oh, what?” she’d mouth to the crowd member. “You want some of this?”
Perhaps the most impressive and awe-inspiring aspect of Robyn as a performer is her indescribable presence and performance quality. She weaves in and out of attitudes–at one moment sweetly chirping “Thank you all so much for coming tonight!”, the next, on the floor grinding against the stage and flipping the bird to the crowd. There is no other artist that even comes close to delivering the performance Robyn can with simply a mic and a stage alone other than Madonna.
The singer certainly stuck with the uptempo side of things, including the fist-pump friendly “Cobrastyle,” and her collaboration with Royksopp, “The Girl and The Robot,” delivered while basking in an eerie green glow.
Midway through her set, Robyn took a rare, highly deserved moment to herself as “Don’t Fucking Tell Me What To Do,” the intro track from Body Talk Pt. 1 and unofficial All Hearts anthem boomed overhead. The singer swung a sweat towel around her neck, and pulling out–what else? A banana. Literally right in front of me, she peeled and ate the banana, staring down the audience like a bad boss bitch. It was fantastic. I just wish she shared a bite.
Of course, there was her latest single from Body Talk Pt. 1, “Dancing On My Own,” which was performed to the pinnacle of perfection. The same fierce choreography, the same solid vocal performance. Nothing beats that moment when she steps away from the mic for a brief power snap backward–except, of course, the rapid-fire punch-the-air mania of the bridge. AMAZING. I just wish she’d punch out the mic again!
To my great surprise, Robyn also whipped out a treat from her self-titled 2005 record, an electro-enhanced re-rub of one of my favorite songs from the singer, “Who’s That Girl?” Donning a beret, the singer sauntered her way across the floor to the song’s killer beats, and, approaching the drum set, began furiously banging out a quick drum solo before throwing out her drumsticks into a swarming sea of wanting fans. Delicious.
By the end of the show, all sense of decency was out the window. Shirts were strewn and dangling as cameras, now visibly dripping and slipping between fingers, fought against waves of people thrashing to Robyn’s unbelievable performances. The entire venue was flailing and swaying–so much so that the floor below us began to wobble uncomfortably underneath our feet. Even the uptight, pretentious gay to my right with his hands folded that did nothing but sip a beer the whole night broke out into a somewhat vigorous head-bob. (But seriously, who does that at a concert? And in the front row, no less?)
After the show’s “ending” (there’s always an encore), Robyn quickly popped back onto the stage for two more songs: “Dream On” and “With Every Heartbeat,” two of her most anthemic tracks.
“And it hurts with every heartbeat!” the crowd shouted back breathlessly in the final seconds of Robyn’s set. With a final wide grin, Robyn held up her hands together to form a heart shape in between her fingers and thumbs. A thousand more greeted her from the audience, thus concluding the All Hearts Tour in the most literal sense.
When we somehow found our way back to the hotel following the show, we could do nothing but crawl onto the ground and moan in pain. As a famous Swedish songstress might say: My legs were killing me. My neck was killing me. My arms were killing me. It literally felt like I’d just gotten beaten up–and really, we did. Robyn and Kelis had sonically punched us in the gut, leaving us lying on the floor, panting and otherwise motionless.
Officially speaking, the All Hearts Tour was unmistakably, undoubtedly, and indubitably one of the greatest and most exciting concert experiences I’ve ever had.
Unofficially? OMFG BEST SHOW EVARRRR.
Many thanks and so much love to Muuser Eric H. for joining me for this most epic of adventures, as well as selected photos above.
Photo courtesy of iHeartRadio.
If you didn’t already know from my manic, semi-nonsensical tweets, I trekked down to the city yesterday to attend a private performance by the one and only Swedish princess of pop Robyn for iHeartRadio, which was taped at the P.C. Richard & Son Theater in Tribeca.
The singer performed her killer set of seven songs for an enamored crowd of sequined super fans and tattooed hipsters alike, beginning with Body Talk Pt. 1‘s “Cry When You Get Older” and finishing off with her international Kleerup-produced smash, “With Every Heartbeat.”
While the show was consistently solid throughout, the highlight for me started off with an unfamiliar series of icy electronic beats stuck on repeat. As the music progressed, the singer launched into the song’s instantly recognizable lyrics: It was “Be Mine,” and this mix was seriously the business.
I’d later come to find out from Muuser and soon-to-be All Hearts concert buddy Eric H. that the song was actually a remix that’s been out for a while–the Verschwende Deine Jugend mix. (Try saying that one three times fast.) I’m telling you, get on that shit NOW.
Photo courtesy of iHeartRadio.
Since my friend and I were a bit, err…fashionably late for the performance, we ended up getting stuck towards the back of the venue. Standing at a whopping 5′ 4″ behind a general admission crowd, my view was limited at best. Nevertheless, I was still able to keep track of the superstar on stage by keeping my eyes trained the tuft of blonde hair gyrating about.
And in the short glimpses that I did catch of Robyn in performance mode–punching the air during the epic, rapid-fire synth breakdown of “Dancing On My Own,” hanging vulnerably onto the mic during an acoustic performance of “Hang With Me–I saw the same energetic, effervescent pop star that I’ve always known and loved.
Thanks to the magic that is today’s technology, you can now see the fabulous video of Robyn’s performance of “Dancing On My Own” last night on iHeartRadio right here.
It’s probably one of my favorite performances I’ve seen of the song thus far–and it doesn’t hurt that I caught it going down LIVE.
An amazing show, but this was really just a warm up session: The real fun begins when the All Hearts Tour hits NYC next week. Yeah…it’s going to get ridiculous. I’ll probably lose my pants.
Many thanks to my friend Charlie, who won tickets to attend the taping!