Ladyhawke Live at the Fillmore
As part of the "Perez Hilton Presents Tour," last Wednesday the enigmatic and adorable Kiwi singer known as Ladyhawke (aka Pip Brown) took to the venerable Fillmore stage. For full disclosure, this was my first time at the Fillmore, which is an awesome venue. It is a little striking that the lineup of shows for the next several months is eclectic enough to include everything from Foreigner to Matisyahu to Dinosaur Jr. to five nights (yes, five) of the Black Crowes. With the exception of Brown and her London-based band's extremely satisfying performance, it was a strange and awkward evening.
*all photos courtesy of Patrick Kelly
For a place so focused on it's history (photos of past performers line nearly every wall) I was a little surprised that the website listed "Perez Hilton Presents" rather than, say, any of the musical acts to be featured that evening. Once inside, however, it made sense. While Ladyhawke was the headlining act, the supporting bands rotated through a number of lesser-known names over the course of the tour's seventeen dates. Some of the tour's other acts, including Semi Precious Weapons and Sliimy, are signed to Perez's new record label venture, while others, such as Natalie Portman's Shaved Head, have earned some considerable indie buzz in recent months.
With all that talent to throw around, it's too bad Perez couldn't curate a more seamless show. The over-the-top branding, in the form of huge fluorescent pink banners with the tour's logo (a cartoon likeness of the man himself, naturally) and aggressive corporate sponsorship (with sampling!) made the music feel like somewhat of an afterthought, at least to the people putting on the show. The crowd was mixed to say the least, and rather small, taking up less than half of the Fillmore's ample danceable space.
Thankfully, what the show lacked in atmosphere was more than made up for when Ladyhawke took the stage. Brown herself is one of those artists that is as exciting to watch for her striking appearance onstage, as she is for her personal intrigue behind the scenes. Born and raised in New Zealand, the 28-year old has been a fairly outspoken educator on the subject of Aspberger's Syndrome, a form of autism with which she was diagnosed as a teenager. Stories abound of her health issues (near death as a child to a rare disease, allergies to nearly all medicines, lactose intolerance, etc.) and her unique fashion choices (she refuses to wear woman's clothing). All this intrigue could be hard to live up to, but Brown and her positively adorable British band put on a great show.
In contrast with the album versions of her songs, Ladyhawke's live show draws many more similarities with music's other iconic front women of Stevie Nicks or Chrissy Hind. While the album makes full use of a variety of tools (Brown describes herself frequently in interviews as a "gadget freak"), the live sound is pure, well executed classic rock. The singles "Paris is Burning" and "My Delirium" inspired the crowd to move, either because they were the only songs they'd heard before or because they were some of the evening's most energetic. "Danny and Jenny" a slightly grittier, but no less catchy and energetic track featured on the extended version of her self-titled album, was for me the standout track and memorable enough for me to scour the internet for a download when I got home.
Despite it's many shortcomings, this was a great opportunity to see a truly exciting band that has yet to fully break onto the U.S. scene. After all, the girl's got great style, both in music and dress. That combination should always be celebrated at shows, not pushed aside for the sake of some gossip blogger.