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Genius/asshole: Lyn-Z of Mindless Self Indulgence.

Photo: Joe Putrock

Sold Out

By David King

Mindless Self Indulgence

Revolution Hall, July 1

I am no longer a rock star! I am no different from a homeless man, and I will prove it,” announced Mindless Self Indulgence lead singer Jimmy Urine in the middle of his band’s set at Revolution Hall last week. He looked down at the sweaty, screaming teens in front of him and demanded, “Give me 20 dollars! I ain’t fucking kidding!”

Kids scrounged in their pockets and delivered any bills they hadn’t already spent on band merchandise. “I got like 40 bucks up here,” Urine bragged, adding, “You ain’t getting that back!”

Mindless Self Indulgence’s set wasn’t as much about their music as it was about just being absolutely fucking sarcastic, hysterical, insulting, over-the-top, completely awesome and, sometimes, honest to a fault.

“Welcome to the Mindless Self Indulgence hangover!” Urine declared. Done up in a carnival-barker suit, his spiky pink mohawk darting far over his head, he scolded the audience: “Why couldn’t you be last? Nooo, you can’t do anything right; you had to be second-to-last!” With two more dates left on the band’s tour, it is certainly possible that MSI’s industrial-punk-shock-rock circus may have been a little bit ragged compared to earlier dates, but it was the haphazardness that made the band’s performance so brilliant and twisted.

Urine used his showmanship to distract from his lack of interest in actually singing, having fans fill in on most choruses. But when he committed himself to his vocal performance, the band soared. Meanwhile, guitarist Steve Righ? lounged atop a speaker stand while playing his sharp punk riffs, bassist Lyn-Z bounced and posed while rumbling out pulsing bass lines, and drummer Kitty pounded her kit along to prerecorded tracks.

On “Get It Up,” Urine dueted with his wife, Morningwood singer Chantal Claret. Like some fucked-up, new-wave Peaches tune, the pounding electro beats propped up the pair’s sexy arguing about why Urine can’t achieve erection.

The absolute greatest moment of the night came during the now-classic “Bitches.” Urine, who had already stripped down to his black boxer briefs, demanded of the crowd, “I want to be a pretty, pretty princess!” Fans again found a well of generosity, and quickly threw bras, skirts and dresses onto the stage. Urine dressed himself in the fans’ garments, then perched atop Kitty’s drum set. Like some twisted Statue of Liberty, he donned the final piece of his princess getup, a gaudy headband that functioned as his tiara.

As “Bitches” came to its conclusion, he decided to “summon the demon of selling out,” offering up the “boring, straight-ahead” almost-hit “Straight to Video” as a sacrifice. The crowd went berserk, ignoring Urine’s warning that the song was mindless drivel, and proving the point he had been trying to make all night: Despite his cleverness, Urine is just one more cog in the music-industry marketing machine, exchanging shitty, brain-dead music for T-shirt sales.

Say It Isn’t So

Daryl Hall

Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center, July 6

Oh my my. I think everybody wanted this to be a great show. One of the first big shows in the Mahaiwe’s foray into popular music, a big ol’ star, and a neighbor (Hall lives 30 minutes away in Millerton, New York). Which makes the disappointment all the more acute. And it was all so avoidable.

First, the sound. There was a massive monitor system on the stage—significantly bigger, in fact, than the front-of-house rig (the Mahaiwe’s a tiny, 700-seat hall). And that’s pretty much all we heard: muffled, indirect vocals coming from speakers pointed away from us, with no presence or definition. Hall’s singing has a ton of nuance, and he works the microphone like a musical instrument, but whenever he moved off-mic even a little, his voice disappeared in the house. I imagine it sounded great onstage.

And it wasn’t an equipment problem—the opening act, a sweet-voiced folksinger with nothing to say, sounded superb through the same system.

Second, Hall seemed to be trying to re-create his excellent “Live from Daryl’s House” Webcast concerts, which feature casual, acoustic sessions. He tried, and he failed. There was a massive, hideous, and unnecessary stage set that looked like the inside of a post-and-beam barn; one expected Miss Kitty to pop her head through one of the second-story windows and wave to the crowd, which would be pretty weird for a neo-soul concert. But critically, Hall and his trusty sidekick, the terrific T-Bone Wolk, played acoustic guitars throughout the set, mostly while sitting on stools. Which would have been fine, but nobody told the ham-fisted rhythm section to lay back, and they played like they were in an arena, and they were stiff. The result was a muddled, bottom-heavy din; T-Bone appeared to be taking some big-statement solos from time to time, but they were inaudible. The overall sound was monolithic and annoying, a long way from the palpable intimacy of the Web concerts.

Which was all a damn shame, because Hall seemed lit up (at one point I think he said “Hey, I shop at Guido’s, too!”), in good voice (from the little we could hear), and ready to play all night. Wolk is always on, and setlist was schweet indeed, with minor ear-candy hits dominating: “Everytime You Go Away,” “When the Morning Comes,” and an evening-closing “Dreamtime.”

Too bad we couldn’t hear it.

—Paul Rapp

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