“Any ladies who are Pro-Choice should see me after the show.”
This pronouncement pretty summed up the attitude of the Har Mar Superstar front runner Sean Tillman who opened for Sia at the 9:30 club on Friday, March 7th. Tillman traipsed around the stage along the lines of a child in a candy store, an appropriate analogy especially as Sia had covered the stage in myriad of stuffed animals and whimsical tubular lights in star shaped tree formations. Although, it should be stated that there was simultaneously nothing and everything childlike about his excessive pelvic thrusts, sexual commentary and grand finale when he reached into his red briefs to pull out a few pubic hairs which he sprinkled on himself from above, as if he truly believed in the power of fairy dust. From his crotch. Ew.
He rarely stood still and interacted with the crowd quite a good deal. His vocals and were reminiscent of a screechy head voice imitation of Robert Plant or the falsetto of Beck in the song “Debra”. The beats ranged from electropop to thudding simplistic bass (reminded me of Holy Fuck) to incorporating the plastic sounds of Disney pop in a song dedicated to a disney girl band. Most of his lyrics were of the sordid variety, in the vein of Tenacious D.
A lead guitarist and drummer played along although Tillman didn’t really need them to get his point across. Which is that he wanted to rub his sweaty body on any and all available and willing (maybe even non-willing) women. Another crowning moment of the show was when he jumped into the audience to mingle and share his sweat “Come on, you know you want to touch me!” he hollered into the mic. I was fortunate enough to elbow my way through the crowd to get a few photos of this, which Tillman LOVED. He actually came over closer to me once he saw I had a pro camera and a photo pass. Awesome. Total ham doesn’t even begin to describe him.
I will say that Tillman’s antics surprisingly affected the crowd, who hooted and cheered and whooped along with him, following his every move. And, GASP, some of them actually danced! I’ve never seen more moving bodies at an actual live performance in the DC area before. Sia sold out the show, and most of the audience was present by the time Har Mar Superstar finished. Tillman managed to get everyone in a good mood and ready for some serious singing once Sia took the stage.
One might wonder, how could anyone possibly follow an act that ended with a mostly naked paunchy Ron Jeremy lookalike whipping the audience into a frenzy? Well, Sia took the stage in high form, with everyone dressed in black and covered in neon tape which was made brilliant by black lights. Everyone looked like the frenetic stick figures on Sia’s website, which were drawn in the Appleworks paint program, with the naievte of a child but the irony of a hipster. I only wish I could have had a bird’s eye view of the whole stage, but I was stuck in one place during the black lights which lasted for the first song only, after which the black suits were stripped off to reveal normal clothes underneath.
I was legitimately blown away by Sia’s vocals. A far cry from the breathy, distinctive flavor of her work with Zero 7, Sia busted out rich, tonal melodies, her voice soaring above her 6 piece band with no problem. Several sustained notes revealed a rich and nuanced vibrato, eliciting cheers from the crowd. “Some People Have Real Problems” offers a mature and well developed collection of tunes, which I understand from my interview with Sia last week, have been written as recently as a year ago, and as distantly as 5 years ago. The collection is cohesive, however, and works together as a whole, and is well produced. Musically the album references blues and soul while keeping up-tempo and upbeat. Sia mentioned that she had been lazy about promoting her solo work in the past, and that she hadn’t received much critical acclaim for it as a result. “Some People Have Real Problems” speaks for itself, (as does her completely sold out tour.) Any press that Sia does will just be icing on the cake in my opinion.
Sia’s bubbly, childlike phone banter last week was repeated in her performance. She spoke to the audience with genuine enthusiasm, as if she had been just practicing in her living room and all of a sudden a million fans showed up to give her flowers. She praised Har Mar Superstar, especially lauding the sexual prowess of Tillman, much to the delight of the audience.
I left after a few songs because I wanted to catch her beaux at the Black Cat, JD Sampson of Le Tigre who was spinning a kick ass dj set with fellow Le Tigre member Johanna Fateman. Much to my delight, guess who showed up at the end of the MEN set, but Sia herself! What a way to end the evening… While I chatted with Sia, fellow BYT contributer Abby tried not to trip over herself while approaching the lustworthy JD and JO. Check out the photos commemorating the occasion.