An evening of superlatives

The Whitest Boy Alive + Jessica 6 – The Bowery Ballroom – April 20

When Jessica 6’s singer Nomi Ruiz walked on stage wearing a skin-tight black and gold top and matching mini skirt, the crowd reacted audibly. Is that a drag queen? No? The lead singer for the openers? Hmm. A beat from the bass drum quickly permeated the air with such intensity that it invaded my chest and reprogrammed my heart to beat with it. Involuntary submission.

Jessica 6

Nomi was so theatrical and eye-catching with her deep red lips and matching pumps, husky voice, ample cleavage, and hip swaying that I didn’t even begin to take in anything else until the middle of the second song. Turns out, there were five other people on stage, including a saxophone player.

The crowd speculations continued between songs. Is that a dude or is that a woman? – That’s a dude, man. Are You kidding me?

As if taunting the crowd, Nomi sang lyrics like “Isn’t it fun to have a girl like me in your back seat?” and later, “Let me see you dance!” on repeat. Even her song titles became increasingly suggestive. Early on there was “Fun Girl,” then “Inside” (with the lyrics “How does it feel to be inside of me?”) and finally, “In the Heat,” which elicited chuckles and comments from the crowd. If that’s a woman, then she’s hot.  – Dude, I really don’t think that’s a woman.

Then, suddenly the show was over as abruptly as it started, and Erlend Øye stopped mingling with fans and headed to the stage area.

The four band members ambled on stage, rather awkwardly, nodded at the audience, and picked up their instruments. This was a far different audience than the one that crowded the same space last September for the Kings of Convenience show. They were moving, talking, and smoking (ok, I guess it was 4/20). By the second song, they were even jumping, and I’m hard-pressed to think of another instance when the floor at the Bowery Ballroom moved so much.

the Whitest Boy Alive

We got a brief lecture from Øye about the seven types of techno music that he learned about when he first went to Germany in 2002. He then launched into “Timebomb” to illustrate good techno music by a house band.

Øye was quite engaging. In addition to dancing around on stage and showing off some of the moves that must have helped to earn him the title ‘DJ-Kicks,’ Øye made the following proclamation:

You know this is a Tuesday. But I’m going to tell you… it is not a Tuesday. It is Saturday. It’s Saturday night and you’ve worked all week long and spent your hard-earned money on this show, so I want to see you move your ass!

And that, they did. In fact, one girl took the invitation a little to literally perhaps. She made her way onto the stage and started dancing next to Øye, only to get escorted from the stage (rather awkwardly) by the tech guy.

For a song or two, The Whitest Boy Alive even invoked help from a couple of friends to jump in on brass, and suddenly, the trumpet and trombone factored prevalently into the mix.

When the last song was announced, it was met by violent boo’s and general outrage. But it’s Saturday! It’s Saturday! Not to fear, the boys were back for a rousing encore, complete with help from Jason and Carter on bass again. For the grand finale, Øye took of his characteristic glasses, set them aside for safe keeping, and dove into the crowd. People dropped their beer in order to support him over their heads as he crowd surfed with confidence. It’s hard to believe that this was the group’s first time in New York.


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"He considered music a liberating force: it liberated him from loneliness, introversion, the dust of the library; it opened the door of his body and allowed his soul to step out into the world to make friends."

- Milan Kundera's The Unbearable Lightness of Being


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