At one point earlier this month, after Vegas and several boozy nights on the town, I had precisely $55 in my checking account. What did I do with my precious remaining cash? Buy food? Tuck it away? Spend $10 to stay out super-late on a work night to watch a live performance by a bizarro woman I'd seen in a YouTube video in 2006?
Ding ding ding! Gem Sweater woman was coming to town, and I just couldn't say no.
"Gem Sweater" was the production of one Leslie Hall, native of Ames, Iowa, and her band, Leslie and the Ly's. Was she serious? You honestly can't tell from that video, or at least I couldn't. So Neil and I headed to DC9 on Sunday night to scope things out. And what we found was...well, I am hesitant to tell you because I don't want her show to sell out even faster next time. But - but - oh fine. IT WAS THE BEST LIVE SHOW I HAVE BEEN TO THIS YEAR!!
You'll have to see her perform to understand. You won't believe me if you just watch her YouTube stuff. There's a sparkle to her live performance that you just can't see on a screen: the hilarious off-the-cuff humor, the stuffed tiger helmets, the giant dolls, the humorless drummer wearing pink sunglasses, the homemade gold shoes, the fact that Leslie's actually kind of pretty. She also, um, has BO. But to be fair, I was standing about six inches from her armpits the entire time (tiny venue), and the rankness was just one more part of the fun. You could never quite tell where the irony ended and Midwestern sincerity began.
I wasn't in the mood to have as much fun as I did. I was tired. I had a headache. The girl next to me was wearing a homemade "Vagina Dentata" t-shirt, complete with vampire teeth and a pom-pom clitoris. The first act onstage consisted of two guys, one art-speaking "Ray of Light" by Madonna over a techno loop while his friend, a fat guy with a beard, hit a cowbell at random intervals. But I held on, and like a slowly-opening lotus, "just plain weird" blossomed into "God I can't look away weird" as the second band, Christopher the Conquered, and its pelvically-flexible frontman took the stage...
...And then Leslie ran up on stage in a gold cloak and her backup dancers got behind her in purple tasseled dresses and started to boogie, and my jaw dropped.