Last summer I wrote a blog post about never going to a stand-up concert again, but we did do it again Sunday night.
It was for a good cause, and I knew some of the performers, so it was excusable. And I learned never to say never again. Well, at least about some stuff.
It was at Webster Hall, and it was a sort of benefit for something called Future Feminism, a sort of art show to be held at The Hole Gallery on the Bowery starting Thursday the 11th.
My friend Kembra Pfahler had a lot to do with this show, it was her Facebook post that first got my attention, and after looking at the line up I asked Danusia if she wanted to go and she agreed, so I bought tickets. I bought three, one for me, one for her, and one for our friend Zibigniew, who I shall forever hereafter refer to as Z. He is working with Danusia on a new theatrical project, and is a fan of all three of the performers.
The advert said Kembra and “The girls of Karen Black” would be performing along with Antony Heagarty and Cocorosie. As I said, I know Kembra; I met her a long time ago through a mutual friend, the skateboarder Andy Kessler.
Then I met Antony through Kembra, though I wasn’t actually introduced. I kept seeing them around the Lower East Side together in around 2002, Kembra and this really tall guy with a shaved head and very pretty eyes that dressed in all black and only spoke to Kembra. He seemed very shy, so I didn’t push the issue.
Then I was at a sort of going away party for a guy, a musician who was moving to another country at the club Siné. Antony came out on stage and started singing in a voice and style slightly reminiscent of John Jacob Niles, a high, quavery kind of voice unusual for a man. It was beautiful and after the performance I went up to him and thanked him for singing so beautifully; something I’ve never done before.
A year later I went to see Lou Reed at Town Hall and was surprised when Lou Reed invited someone out on stage to sing “Candy Says” and stated that Antony could sing it much better than himself, a rare and generous admission coming from the great man.
I grabbed my date’s arm and said, “I know that guy! That’s Kembra’s friend Antony!” And Antony did indeed add a special kind of magic to “Candy Says.”
When I started dating Danusia a couple of years later I was surprised to find out that she knew Antony, she’d been part of the Blacklips Theater at the Pyramid club in the 90’s. That was Antony’s project before Antony and the Johnsons.
For Christmas 2005 we gave each other Antony’s “I am a bird now” CD. It was eerily reminiscent of the last Christmas with my ex-wife, when we gave each other identical back scrubbers. If you ever exchange back scrubbers with your spouse, watch out. But the CD had a little more meaning and understanding than a back scrubber, so it was OK.
I first heard Cocorosie on a video show called New York Noise, on of all channels WNYC, owned by the city of New York and broadcast from the roof of Brooklyn Tech.
New York Noise was the best music video show ever, and I miss it. But one of the little gems I spotted those last months of living alone was a video from “Noah’s Ark,” actually it was the song Noah’s Ark from the selfsame album by Cocorosie.
It was almost hypnotizing, these two beautiful girls with unusual voices and a very arty homemade video. It mad me go out and buy the CD.
All of this music, The Voluptuous Horror Of Karen Black, Antony, Cocorosie is classified as “Art rock” or in the case of Cocorosie “Folk-hop” or something or other, I guess “alternative” is the catchall phrase.
I’d never seen Cocorosie, so I was excited about that. I’ve seen both Kembra and Antony in various settings and various incarnations, but when Kembra performed Sunday night it was “just the girls” and I missed hearing the whole band play, notably Samoa, Gyda, and Michael, who are all friends.
But Kembra was fun, she’s always entertaining and the only person I know whom I’ve ever heard use the word “fornicating” in a sentence.
Johanna Constantine is a longtime collaborator of Antony’s and she opened the show by Deejaying and then doing a dance during the Cocorosie set. I mustn’t forget to mention her.
Antony came out during their set, I was expecting him to perform alone but Danusia told me he’d told her he was singing with them, not alone when we spoke to him before the show.
He sang “Beautiful Boyz” with them, and then sat at the piano to sing “You are my sister” by himself.
The Cocorosie girls, Sierra and Bianca, did not disappoint. They both have beautiful voices, and their different singing styles are a perfect blend for their off-kilter brand of music.
Despite having to stand, I had a great time. I saw some friends, saw a great show, and it wasn’t half as bad as standing in that field in Prospect Park with thousands of kids last summer. Here we were able to sit from time to time and got pretty close to the stage, except we were on the side where the piano was and could only see the top of Antony’s head when he played. But we heard him, and that was what was important.
When we left we ran into Samoa in front of Webster Hall.
“Where you inside?” I asked.
“I just got here,” he replied.
“Is the show over?” He added.
“Yes, it is,” I said. Just like Samoa to get there late, but you gotta love him.