Being officially old now, I discover new musical talent through kid shows. Henry’s favorite is Yo Gabba Gabba. I’ve seen each episode about a thousand times. But it’s by far the coolest kid show out there. Even I kind of dig it, even after seeing the same episodes over and over. After seeing the Aquabats, Mark Mothersbaugh from Devo, Tony Hawk, Elija Wood, and Jack Black make guest appearances on the show, I knew it had to be a pretty ultra cool team behind an ultra cool show. One wacky person who appeared several times is the rotund, gold-jumpsuited Leslie. I didn’t know who she was and had to look her up. But I was already convinced she would surprise me with some coolness. She did that and more. After watching her Zombie-Killer and tribute to the old movie ‘Willow’ on YouTube, I was a fan. Her music isn’t necessarily hard-edged in any way, but she definately has a true punk rock spirit. Her singing is mediocre. Her moves are downright sad. And sex appeal is definately nowhere to be found. And she knows it, and wears all that like a crown of glory. She’s a little tongue-in-cheek. Maybe not as outright cosmic as Frank Zappa, but she lives somewhere in that vein. Anyway, I was delighted to hear she was putting on a show at the Granada. Fortunately, I was able to duck out of work in time to go see it with Sarah. She scored free tickets for hanging Granada flyers at her salon.
The show was delightfully fun. Being old and all, as I mentioned before, I was a little nervous about a loud concert in the middle of the week, so I brought ear plugs. Luckily it wasn’t that loud, so there was no need to use them. It’s hard to put to words what the show was like. It was like a comical, cosmic, mind-melting celebration of 80′s midwest diva tackiness. The Dairy Queen-working, never-been-kissed virgin from nowhere, Iowa gone SUPERSTAR! She rolled video on the big screens the whole time. Videos featured everything from poorly green-screened people dressed as goblins dancing in the forest, to 80′s home-shopping and excercise footage. Her sidekicks were a hoot too. The show began with them in white-tiger leotard jumpsuits. Okay, that might be kinda slick, kinda sexy. But they caped it off with giant stuffed-animal tiger head-hats.
Later, Leslie did a big reveal, pulling away a curtain to show them suspended in air, hanging from suspention lines. One might expect dazzling acrobatics or sexy moves. But being about 5 feet off the floor and too close to each other, they just kind of flailed. But the crowd roared and cheered anyway.
In terms of punk rock spirit, at least on the inside, I would equate this show to the Misfits, different as it may have looked and sounded. Leslie Hall’s show is a giant middle finger to the music industry machine, controlled by execs, dominated by beautiful people (and occasionally some talent.) And I think it’s great that she has built a following without having been signed by any label. She and her two sidekicks still travel in a zanily-decorated van.
Sarah and I had the fortune to meet her out back where she was signing some autographs and taking some pictures. Sarah was tickled that they sold toddler tees, and bough one for Hanky. She was genuinely nice and conversational. She signed Hank’s tee and took a picture with us.
Because she wasn’t the main act, she only played about an hour. Again, being that we are officially old, Sarah and I were also glad that we were able to head home by 10 on a weeknight.