By Jeff Walsh
Let's address the obvious straight away. Evelyn Evelyn, the conjoined twin sister singing duo that played San Francisco this weekend, aren't lesbians, or gay, or trans, which may raise the flag of why I'd be reviewing their show for a gay youth site.
I find this sort of thinking to miss the mark entirely. Growing up as conjoined sisters gives them a unique take on life, sure, but it still shines the same light on all of the same issues we see here on a regular basis: difference, adversity, trying to fit in, and trying to pull away from a gift that you were given at birth. For the Neville sisters, it's one another; for everyone else, your sexuality.
As they sing in the bridge to their namesake song: "I never asked for this! I never wanted this! All that I want is some time to myself!" Sound familiar?
With that out of the way, seeing the sisters in their reluctant spotlight at the Great American Music Hall on Sunday night was inspiring. Even with the adoration from the crowd, the sisters always seemed timid and uncomfortable being center stage. In the darkness, they told the tale of their horrible upbringing through an inventive use of shadow puppets, giving us a peek at the tragedy that hangs just underneath the surface of their songs.
By Jeff Walsh
Mika's recent show at the Fox Theater in Oakland, supporting his new album "The Boy Who Knew Too Much," started on the wrong foot. Well, more accurately, Mika ended his show in Los Angeles the night before on the wrong foot, which had him a bit hobbled in Oakland, where he spent a lot of time on one leg, and using a flourescent-enhanced crutch to stay off his left foot. I've seen enough injured performers on concert already (lead singer of The Kaiser chiefs jumping around in a leg cast, and Pink recently avoided her aerial work due to a shoulder injury) to not think twice about it, but for some reason, it sort of deflated my experience of a Mika concert.
Mika concerts are parties. The music is upbeat. The crowd is ready to dance. And the glue holding it all together is Mika, who sets the tone.
So, watching Mika try his hardest to dance around, with his injured leg actually buckling out from under him at times, it sort of set me off. He was doing his best to make sure we were having fun, but you see that he was pushing himself into that role, as opposed to previous shows where it was completely effortless and natural. It just wasn't fun watching someone in pain trying to create a huge party vibe.
Interestingly, if you closed your eyes, it was a normal Mika show. His leg didn't affect his voice or energy in that regard, and his vocals and band were great.
we danced the night away like foolish children
you lost your shoes crowd surfing
but you sang and laughed like it was nothing
they'd come back eventually
they always do
the heat choked us until our heads spun
it was sickening and exhilirating
and it made us feel so alive
we stayed close by choice
as often as we were forced
without thinking, i reached for you
you became something to me
through our sarcasm
to the side of our individualistic power
we became friends
the crowd, roaring, screaming
unintentionally made an attempt
to separate us in the chaos
By Jeff Walsh
Donna Summer opened her recent show at the Paramount Theater in Oakland with "The Queen Is Back," a song off her hooky, fun album "Crayons," the disco diva's first in 17 years. In the song, Summer namechecks some past hits and sings about herself in third person for some unknown reason: "So many years ago, on the radio, she crept into your soul and loved to love you."
Since this is a youth site, we should probably take a step back and mention that Donna Summer was one of the biggest stars of the late 70s and early 80s, at the height of the disco era. Her hits include "Love to Love You Baby," "I Feel Love," "Macarthur Park," "Hot Stuff," "Bad Girls," "No More Tears (Enough is Enough)," "On The Radio," and "She Works Hard for the Money." Her era happened before even *I* was a teenager and, had my then-divorced mother not start going out dancing and such in the disco era, I'd probably have even less clue about her.
If you don't know Summer, it might be worth your while to check out some of her old hits (my faves are "I Feel Love," "MacArthur Park" (crazy lyrics and all), "Hot Stuff," and her duet with Barbra Streisand, "No More Tears." Or you can check out her latest album, "Crayons."
I get to go see the Dresden Dolls tomorrow with my friends. Yay for stripy-socked angst. And I get to wear fishnets and a spiffy hat. So right on.
In other news, hot weather sucks when most of your clothing is black.
Also, puppies are cute, and ice cream is good.
Life is calmer than it has been in a very long time. It's kinda nice.
Ok so yeah it's been awhile since I've posted here on oasis and it's mainly just because things have been going very weird for me. It's kind of like once I thought I had everything figured out it turned on me.
By Jeff Walsh
Two groundbreaking gay comics are out this month with new specials. Jason Stuart: Making It To The Middle (airing on here! TV) and Suzanne Westenhoefer: A Bottom On Top (airing on LOGO, and available on DVD) are two examples of gay standup pioneers still doing their thing. Both filmed their specials away from the traditional gay cities, both have acts that largely deal with them being gay, but on many levels they couldn't be more different.
Stuart comes across as very caring, down to earth and nice in the interview segments during his special, but onstage that's all gone. His act was just too ADD and superficially gay for me (the ADD thing is saying a lot for a comic, since they all tend to go from one topic to another, often without any transition). It just seemed more like a lot of interplay with the audience, mincing and quips, "brokeback" moments with a cute guy in the front row, and a frenzy and rush that never lets up. But that pace also robs us of getting to know Stuart better.
Westenhoefer, on the other hand, goes onstage without much of a script, and most of her show is improvised. But, she just seems so calm and natural onstage, just letting the stories unspool, but always bringing the funny at regular intervals.
By Jeff Walsh
Mika stormed through San Francisco again on Tuesday night, toward the tail end of his ongoing tour supporting his amazing first album, "Life in Cartoon Motion." This was his second time in our fair city, and I was also at his first go-round at The Fillmore back in June.
As you would expect, the show was completely sold out and, as you'd also expect, the set list included his entire debut album, as well as a few new songs and his seemingly obligatory Eurythmics cover. Last time he was here, he played Sweet Dream (Are Made of This), but we got "Missionary Man" this time around.
By Jeff Walsh
Live in Cartoon Motion is a perfect document of Mika's quick rise to fame. In a world of YouTube celebrities, gossip playing a bigger role than talent, and further examples of ADD culture, Mika actually made his name with infectious tunes, a fun live show, and of course, playing the "is he or isn't he?" game with the gay press. (I think the prancing around onstage and sheer bombast of his songs answers the question.)
The DVD features a live concert taped in Paris, an hour-long documentary as Mika travels through Europe, all of the music videos off his first album, and three songs performed acoustic. Seeing that he only has one album to his credit, the Paris show is pretty similar to the show I saw in San Francisco, building up to "Grace Kelly" and closing with the naughty-sounding bubblegum pop of "Lollipop." The concert is almost as much fun on DVD as it was in person. He really throws himself into the songs and projects such amazing, fun energy onstage.
Seeing as Mika was sick and having throat problems while they were filming the documentary, presumably for the Paris show, and when I saw him in San Francisco, it really makes me wonder how good his concert would be if he were feeling well. If this is him on a bad day, it certainly makes you wonder.
By Jeff Walsh
Shawn Ryan is a talented singer. You may have caught him last summer on America's Got Talent. You can hear him sing standards such as "Moon River" and "Blue Skies" on his website. But live in concert, as Shawn recently performed for a capacity crowd at the Herbst Theatre, he's something else entirely. In fact, he's many things.
Ryan wears his influences on his sleeve, and is quick to note that a shuffle across stage is his Bette Midler walk. A gesture is his Norma Desmond homage. A certain look is Barbra Streisand. Toss in a few more references to Ann Margaret, Judy Garland, and a few others, and after a night of cover songs, my biggest takeaway was: But who's Shawn?
WEWT!!!! MOZART'S REQUIEM!!! Aaaah, it was so frickin' great!!!
Exactly what the title said. My Def Leppard, Styx, and Foreigner concert got rained out. Gaaaaah! A freaking tropical depression flew over the stadium! It was hailing! And I was outside at the time! I got freaking hailed on! My mom, dad, sister, and I were soaked.
Hey. You all remember the last journal entry I made, where I said I'm going to a Def Leppard/Styx/Foreigner concert on Wednesday? I'm sure you do. Well, I got things mixed up. It turns out the concert is TONIGHT, not tomorrow!! W00t! And since I'll be staying up really late, I'm staying home from school tomorrow, because I need my beauty rest. Yay!
My mom and dad are taking my sister and I to a Def Leppard concert on Wednesday! Styx and Foreigner are playing there, too, but I mostly want to see Def Leppard. :D Yaaaaaaaay!
I saw Tegan and Sara in Brighton on Monday night and they were awesome. They played a good set with a nice mixture of the old and new stuff and i thought they sounded a lot better live than on record. Has anyone else here ever seen them?
By Jeff Walsh
Rufus Wainwright suffers from a unique malady: he's too talented. Whereas many artists find a single groove and ride it over and over again, Rufus has no such problem.
If anything, the problem with Rufus is that his material is often so varied, it is hit or miss whether a concert will have enough cohesion to sort of rise above the "bunch of songs" vibe. The last time I saw him do a full set was the night he recorded his live DVD at The Fillmore, and he certainly brought the magic that night.
But tonight at the Nob Hill Masonic Auditorium, the show had a bit of a schizophrenic vibe, with Rufus switching costumes three times offstage and once in front of the crowd, and a set list running everywhere from dirges to pop to Judy Garland to Irish folk songs to Beatles covers to choreographed drag numbers. None of it was bad, it just didn't seem to have that "glue" that could hold it all together.
By Jeff Walsh
The Kinsey Sicks ended its recent round of touring with a one-night-only engagement of "Condoleezapalooza," a show has been performed in tandem with "I Wanna Be A Republican" around North America for quite some time now.
The highlight of the show wasn't musical, however. It came toward the end of the night, as Winnie (Irwin Keller) pointed out former members of The Kinsey Sicks in the audience, and then announced that Trampolina (aka Chris Dilley) is joining that illustrious group. The news brought Dilley an immediate, heartfelt standing ovation from the appreciative hometown crowd. Because, after a while, the lines all sort of disappear and we all felt like a good friend announced he was leaving town. So, our loss will be New York City's gain, as Dilley starts auditioning to perform onstage as a boy (or not, he knows his way around in heels).
By Jeff Walsh
I go to a lot of concerts. It isn't a rare experience for me. I see the big bands in the huge arenas and the up-and-comers in the clubs. But I have to say, the True Colors Tour was an incredibly rare event.
For those of you who don't know, True Colors was put together by Cyndi Lauper, and at the tour stop I caught in Berkeley, featured The Dresden Dolls, Debbie Harry, Erasure, and Cyndi. (It also featured openers The Cliks and The Misshapes, but to be honest, I was having dinner when they played.) The entire show was about gay and gay-friendly acts getting together to raise awareness. From the moment you entered the venue, when you were given a purple "Erase Hate" rubber bracelet from the Matthew Shepard Foundation, to the big HRC logo above the stage, it was clear that this event was going to be different.
And, throughout the show, the crowd was just delightful. I'd never seen so many people smile at strangers, be generous, loving, and I think all of that amazing positive energy is what transformed the crowd into such a communal dancing party by the time Erasure came onstage. It was a crowd without ego, pretense, or drama (oh, and there were a lot of hot guys, too).
By Jeff Walsh
The Feeling are a great pop band out of the UK, who have already delivered consecutive hit singles from their brilliant debut album "Twelve Stops And Home." The album was recently released in America, and the band is currently touring the country as part of VH-1's "You Oughta Know" tour with Rocco DeLuca and The Burden, and Mat Kearney.
The album has so many amazing songs on it, and really wins you over with its amazing lyrics. The first single "Sewn" (in Entertainment Weekly's Hot List this week) is a slow ballad that builds beautifully with a great melody, although my favorite track on the CD is "Never Be Lonely," which has a lot of emotional messages going on under the hood of a fun, upbeat pop tune.
The Feeling were recently in San Francisco, and I had the chance to interview lead singer and guitarist Dan Gillespie Sells on the band's tour bus, our interview ending 20 minutes before the band would take the stage. Despite the laidback vibe of the band on their bus, they all came alive onstage, working the crowd and bringing a great energy and enthusiasm to the stage.