Thereís not much to dislike about Lovage-- a band put together by one of hip-hops most interesting and creative producers (Dan the Automator, also of Gorillaz fame) that boasts the talents of Mike Patton, Jennifer Charles and Kid Koala canít be all that bad. In fact, theyíre great. The record, Music to Make Love to Your Old Lady By [75 Ark], is a true cross-over, delighting hip-hop fans as well as those more suited to Pattonís bizarre rock experimentations (Mr. Bungle, Tomahawk, Maldoror, Faith No More.) The music is lush, playful, and erotic with vocals/lyrics that shift from outrageously funny to down right entrancing. And the skits are actually funny, something most hip-hop records try for, failing more times than not. So could a record this cool be properly represented live? The answer: yes, yes, YES! More so than this reviewer could have expected.
Starting off the show was the local Chicago hip-hop act, Family Tree. Their shout along raps and energetic presence got the crowd moving well enough, wetting their appetites for the next two acts. It is nice to see a local band play such a large venue as the House of Blues. Iíd like to think this was Lovageís doing, as many acts let locals to warm up for them, allowing young bands premium exposure. So thereís another reason to see this show: to support your local musicians.
Next up was an odd little hip-hop act called Dalek, who were awesome (and I don't use that word lightly). The DJ (Octopus, I think is his name) scratches like no one else I've ever heard. He attacks the goddamn turntable, ruining the needle all in the name of blissful noise. Much of it seemed like just that: noise, noise, solid, hardcore, impenetrable noise in the tradition of the Japanese. For all I know he could have been scratching Merzbow. It was the perfect meeting of East and West comparable only to Otomo Yoshihide of Ground Zero. There were three noise/scratch performances intermixed in their set, the rest being more song oriented. Dalek himself is a big man who leaned forward and blurted his words into the mic, attacking it with as much fury as the DJ tortured his turn table. Another man worked the beats, making the sound of Dalek complete. The bass itself was so low and deep I felt it in every inch of my body. It was an overpowering set, at times ambient, brutal, and intense, but always astonishing and often danceable. Dalek: a band like no other. It seems criminal to call them hip-hop, because they are so much different than anything else in that genre. Very cool. Buy their CD.
And then the curtains parted and a movie screen lower from the top of the stage. The trailer for the 70's classic soft-core porn flick, Young Lady Chatterly was shown, much to the delight of the crowd. Scenes of touching and kissing mixed with close-ups of mouths sucking on pieces of fruit provided the perfect intro to the outfit known as Lovage. Patton and Dan the Automator came out dressed in robes and gold chains, looking every bit like lounge lizards. Kid Koala seemed to be wearing pajamas while he scratched the records. And as for Ms. Jennifer Charles...well, I used to think she had the sexiest voice of any human being, but I only knew half of what she was capable of. In a beautiful black dress, she was every bit the smoldering sex goddess one would expect. Her snake like movements and on stage play made my knees go week.
The band worked through The opening numbers "Pit Stop" and "Anger Management" (a song Patton dedicated to all the lonely men with hairy palms, "my kind of guy,") proving that they could duplicate the sound of the record perfectly with samples, scratches, acoustic guitar, bass, duel vocals and an array of percussion instruments and chimes wielded by Patton. Strutting around the stage "looking important," as Patton said, was Dan the Automator A.K.A. Nathaniel Merriweather, smoking a cigar and drinking cognac, as were the other members. It was no longer a stage but a lounge that held the promise of smooth, joyous sounds and steamy sex.
As the familiar sound of "Koala's Lament" started, Patton and the Automator began dispensing chocolates to the audience, even leaving the stage and mingling with the crowd. He fed both men and woman, licking the little chocolates he gave to the woman.
Had the songs not been so tight, or the singers not been so much fun to watch, the antics might have overpowered the music. But this was not the case, even as Patton and Dan plucked a (lucky?) girl from the audience and strapped her into the inflatable "bondage chair." After the young girl was securely tied down, Patton poured chocolate syrup into her mouth until it spilled onto her face and neck. She got dirty, so the man licked it off her, like the nice, sick person he is. She was eventually freed and ran past me to, I assume, the washroom.
As if that wasn't bad enough...The band returned for an encore first engaging in a game of "pin the backstage pass on the guitar player's ass." This is a man, introduced as Jeff Spicoli (yeah, from Fast Times at Ridgemont High fame) who played half the show in nothing but a rather revealing thong and scarf ensemble. But he returned wearing a Spiderman costume and promptly got down on all fours, sticking his ass out like a good sport. Three (lucky?) girls were chosen to play the game. The first planted the pass directly on the ass, bulls-eye fashion. The next took it up a notch, feeling under the ass to the package where she stuck her pass, as if planting a flag. There was no way to top that, and she was declared the Lovage queen, winning a set of Lovage anal love beads. The girls stayed on stage with the band (one in the bondage chair, the other by the cognac) as they finished the show. Patton did his usual introduction, calling Kid Koala "a cute little DJ" and Jennifer Charles as "the girl who put the cock in cocktail." She laughed at this, that dirty girl. I should stop here before this turns into a tribute to the sensual power of Ms. Charles. Too late?
Again, as fun as the antics were, the songs were tight, perfectly rendered and the very definition of cool. Watching Mike Patton and Jennifer Charles sing duets like "Book of the Month" and "Sex (Iím a)" was as satisfying as any live performance Iíve seen in the past several years -- in fact better than most. These are two of the best vocalists working in music today, period. It is a shame that this act is only playing a mini tour, but if you live in one of the cities on the tour I urge you to go see them. Itíll be the most fun youíll have outside the bedroom. Go on, surrender, you know you want to...everybody's doing it...it'll only hurt for a minute...there...was it good for you, baby?