Mirah, Thao, No Bra, and MEN at the 2nd Annual Northside Festival
By Noah Michelson
(A note about Thao & Mirah with The Most of All: It’s a lot of name, but it boils down to six people on stage, four of which normally accompany the two artists on their respective tours.)
When the show started, it became apparent almost immediately that the duo was meant to be -- not in the you-complete-me way, but in the unexpectedly pleasant, sweet-and-salty way. The two singer’s voices worked well together, Mirah’s delicate soprano blending with Thao’s wide-ranged warble. Some of the best numbers utilized both to create particular effects, like the echoing vocals of Mirah’s “We’re Both So Sorry.” The collaboration translated instrumentally as well -- Thao with the Get Down Stay Down often added their soulful guitar and percussive improvisations to the picture, while Mirah’s and her backing musicians embellished beautifully with clarinet and violin. Most importantly, the two were having an amazing time on stage, and their personalities complimented each other. Thao playfully referred to her lead vocals on her partner’s “Recommendation” as “Mirah Karaoke.” Mirah meanwhile shared that Thao had a pet chicken named Jennifer as a child.
MEN & No Bra (Knitting Factory, Brooklyn)
I arrived a little early to the MEN show and was able to catch the opener, No Bra. The name is a moniker for Susanne Oberbeck, who has an ambiguously low, British voice, and who performed on stage wearing nothing but a pair of pink velour short-shorts and her own ass-length reddish hair. No Bra is somewhat of a mesmerizing act, as she just gets up on stage, turns on the backing beat of her laptop, strips her sweatshirt off, and begins speaking monotonously into the microphone. Her tracks deal with coy subjects, like being approached by strangers on the subway or one-upping someone in a conversation with lines like, “Oh really? You went to Top Shop? I got syphilis in Top Shop once.” No Bra exudes a star’s aura of ennui, which is difficult when performing to a room of loud, drunk New Yorkers.
The nudity continued as MEN, comprised of Ginger Brooks Takahashi, Michael O’Neill, and JD Samson (of Le Tigre), took the stage. JD was wearing what looked like an over-sized mechanics uniform, while Ginger wore undies and Michael wore a thong... along with their instruments of course. MEN’s electro-dance beats drove the crowd wild, and their provocative lyrics and moves drew enthusiastic cries from the concertgoers. The climax of the show occurred when artist Emily Roysdon emerged, wrapped in a rainbow flag, from the middle of the stage where she had been hidden the entire time. Completely naked, she recited a poem, ending in the chant “Who Am I To Feel So Free,” which then laid the lyrics down for the electro-singalong that ensued. Part art, part activism, all entertainment, the performance’s more taboo elements never really felt that alienating. Instead, the atmosphere was communal, energetic, and bohemian. MEN is definitely an act to watch (and catch on tour).
For more on MEN including tour dates, click here.
-- MIKE BERLIN
Previously > Lady Gaga releases a new track