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Friday, October 28, 2011

Stop the Virgens - St. Ann’s Warehouse - Brooklyn NY

The cool night air flowed through the dark Brooklyn warehouse, packed to its fully exposed rafters as the blonde-wigged troupe of “virgens” took their places—be it onstage or amongst the audience—and let loose a divine chorus of lamenting love ballads and ’60s rock ’n’ roll dance numbers complete with formation dance moves and multi-nippled costumes.

The numerous virgens—appearing not unlike the children in Village of the Damned—seemed to be under the spell of two nun/witch type figures reminiscent of the Princess Mombi of Return to Oz, donned with large black oval-shaped head gear and equally as evil makeup and glaring scowls. Amidst all of this rose the cobweb-covered Viking horn- / microphone-wielding Karen O, eventually being tousled and torn about by said virgens to reveal a beautiful long-robed goddess-like figure, resembling a more elaborately dressed Tripitaka from Monkey Magic.

Unfortunately, that’s pretty much the end of my story line review, as after that, I had basically no idea what was going on. At a guess, it seemed Karen O and the two nun/witches seemed to be in an eternal battle for the virgens’ souls, and—surprise, surprise—it was Karen O who won out in the end, as the virgen slaves fell at her feet, spurting blood from their mouths and all down their pretty white frocks, to then be resurrected by song and purged of their evil sins. Or something.

All this aside, it was a production of immense quality and creativity seven years in the making, with lavish and wonderfully eccentric costumes (courtesy of Karen O's longtime costume designer, Christiane Hultquist, aka Christian Joy), haunting and inspiring audio, visuals, and production, and an epic soundtrack that has to be heard to be believed. I must say this was the standout for me—the music was uniquely original, emotional, fun, daring, and perfectly paired with the goings-on onstage. And with musical performers such as Nick Zinner, Money Mark, and Brian Chase in the wings, you can’t really go wrong, can you?

Plus, rather than heading to your usual live music haunt on Manhattan to spend a fortune on drinks and watch your latest obsession churn out their greatest hits, it was a refreshing change to journey to a warehouse beneath the scenic Brooklyn Bridge to see a show I could never imagine and may never see the likes of again. Let it inspire us all, as it should do, to throw off our run-of-the-mill creative shackles and release them into the wild as nature intended.

by Meredith Webb

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