with The Stepkids
Orlando, Florida 5/09/12
Let me start this review by saying that the Stepkids are brilliant. I could have listened to them all night. They are hybrid funk/noise sweetness played by badass musicians. They are a bus accident between the soulful side of Zappa and drippy, reverb-laden psychedelia. Their drummer spun himself into a blur of rudiments, sticks, and rhythm. The bassist brought soupy funk riffs slurped through a straw. The guitarist played part of a solo with his teeth. All the while, rivulets of sweat gushed from their overheated selves.
During their last song my brain exploded. They wore all white (clothing, guitars, drums, skin!) while an LCD projector spattered them with swirly tie-dyed myriads of colors. I felt dizzy while the musicians sounded as though they grew extra limbs and played so fast and scrambly that my skin came away from my body only to be fastened back perfectly when they stopped.
The Stepkids earn their meals.
Mayer Hawthorne and the Country are a very stylish band. All band members wore sportcoats and slacks. Mayer strolled onto the stage wearing poindexter nerderoy clothes complete with signature über coated glasses (to prevent reflection) and a faux hawk. (That's right, a fucking faux hawk.) He looked like Pee Wee Herman and Johnny Knoxville's test tube baby.
The band was outta-sight tight! A well-honed unit of music down to their Motown moves. Those cats rocked back and forth like stationary speed skaters all night long. The guitar player, resembling a younger Bill Nye, played effortlessly. This could partly be because he had fingers that are actually made out of rubber (you could smell heated rubber when he snapped those bad boys). The furry-headed bass player brought a cool case of funk with him that must've served as (h)air conditioning, as that shit looked griddle hot. (I actually saw the keyboard player frying bacon on the bass player's neck between songs.) The keyboardist held it down rear stage, looking and sounding like a black Paul Schaffer. The drummer came to Orlando to beat someone's ass and play drums. Fortunately for me, I saw him while he was drumming. He rocked a Detroit Lions' hat in case we forgot what else he came to town for.
Mayer Hawthorne's voice was like honey. The man can sing. I didn't hear one off note all night. His voice sounded like Darryl Hall's. He knew it, too, as they played a cover of "You Make My Dreams Come True." You-ooo you-hoo aww-you!! They played it in that so-good-you-might-as-well-be-Hall-n-Oats way. They didn't play the entire song, but just enough for me to remember the smell of the time my friend Ritchie projectile vomited a corn dog at the carnival while that song played in the background. As a matter of fact, a lot of Mayer Hawthorne's songs sound like Hall & Oates. I silently sharted in my pants at one point when he asked "Where my 80's babies at?"
Mayer taught us all how to do the Errol Flynn hand dance. Which the 26-36 demographic did well. (The audience wasn't entirely that old. I also saw what looked like a 15-19 year old totally cutting a white-guy rug about five feet away from the stage.) This is a dance that features your hand, which sort of looks like the state of Michigan, repeatedly going palm forward to palm reverse to a rhythm.
At one point Mayer pulled out a song for the "OGs." I think he meant the drummer, because I don't remember seeing any real OGs in the audience. This was a sitting song, which is to mean that he sat while he sang it until he reached the part where the lyrics said he "took a stand," which was clever, because he stood up during that part. They also played a song that sounded conspicuously like Foreigner's "Cold as Ice" but with different words and melodies.
This was my first time experiencing Mayer Hawthorne. The audience was dedicated and engaged. The band was tight and stylish. Overall, it was an enjoyable show. Shart, notwithstanding.