The Pretty Reckless
The Parlor Mob
The Hollywood Kills
Thursday, March 15, 2012
Bottom of the Hill
Better than: To Catch a Predator
You never know what mixed bag of crazy awaits at an all-ages concert, and last night's Pretty Reckless show at Bottom of the Hill was of no exception. The concert was an awkward unraveling of those vile days in adolescence, when fumbling for a sense of place and identity was de rigueur. The show wanted so badly to be a rock concert that, like so many plotlines in family sitcoms, it lost sight of what truly mattered: acceptance.
Presiding over the Hill's gothic-clad kingdom was Taylor Momsen, former Gossip Girl turned lead singer of the night's headlining act.
The Pretty Reckless has certainly paid its dues, with rounds of tours in Europe and a stint opening for Evanescence this past fall. In the two years since the release of the band's debut album, Light Me Up, singer Momsen has toured herself into a poised and practiced speed rock maven.
Momsen took to the stage last night like a modern-day Debbie Harry. Replete with Harry's wickedness and fire, but replacing Harry's subtle sexuality with her own sticky poison, Momsen sighed through the opening lines of the controversy-raising, "Hit Me like a Man": "It's a version of perversion that is only for the lucky people. Take your time and do with me what you will."
Adorned in pleather hot pants, torn nylons, and smoky eye-shadow, her long hair serving as a useful prop, Momsen carried the weight of a high-energy, no-frills, straight-up rock concert. Or, rather, she tried.
Two years ago, Momsen had the stage presence of a disaffected, funereal rock goddess, channeling Poe, Shirley Manson, and Amy Lee. Last night, she played the part of rock chic; which, to her credit, she did quite well.
"I don't know what the fuck day it is on the Medicine Tour," Momsen said, instigating a chain of F-bombs that later peppered her performance. An ominous smile gleamed across her face like that of the Cheshire cat -- and in point of fact it was the tour's fourth day.
It's one thing to play rock chic and another to be rock chic. What the Pretty Reckless needed to be last night was more reckless. The band was too polished, too commercial; lulling otherwise hard-hitting tracks like "Cold Blooded" into stage copies of their recorded tracks. As the night wore on, Momsen's vocals buckled and she continued to rely on the audience to carry her songs -- great for saving the voice, but bad for that devil-may-care rock image.
Still, there's something captivating about Momsen. Say what you will about her career, her salacious attire, or her potential daddy issues, the flighty little thing is carrying that band. She's the draw. Rather than hiding behind the artifices of a plasticine rock performance, Momsen should work with her imperfections. Besides, the band is best when it's not overproduced.