When I arrived at the Hammer at 8:30 Wednesday night I thought I’d be lucky to catch the opener but when I got out to the atrium all I saw were people milling about enjoying the nice L.A. weather. It felt more like a summer patio party than anything else. Which must have been all part of Megapuss’ ingenious plan. Megapuss spent the hour between the eight o clock start time and their set mingling with the crowd in full costume and ready to go so by the time they did leave whatever discussions they were having to walk the couple of feet to the stage I felt like I was hanging out and watching a friend’s show. Which, while not absolutely essential to the Megapuss experience, is incalculably important. So where was the opener? Whether or not this social hour signifies a different conception of a show’s beginning on Megapuss’ part or is just a result of the mechanics of a show at the hammer, this hour was effectively the opening act. I would like to think though, that Megapuss had a certain feeling they wanted to create. There just has to be some sort of preface to seeing five grown men wearing skirts made of inflatable penises over tights, safari gear, and a vest of a wookie-wildebeest hybrid creature. In this case there were two. The second was their formal introduction in which the crowd was informed that every song we’d be hearing had been written in under ten minutes. By my calculations, on the conservative side, Banhart should be releasing an album every week.
Because from what I could tell Megapuss is pretty much the people that bring us Devendra Banhart records. Megapuss has so far been billed as a Devendra Banhart/Greg Rogove joke project. But Rogove, who drums for Priestbird, is a member of Banhart’s band as are Noah Georgeson, who played a comically skinny red bass, and the drummer who I was unable to positively I.D. (later found out it was Fabrizio Moretti from the strokes) Aziz Ansari of Human Giant also appeared as a special guest. The thing is, for the amount of time that probably went into these songs they were really good. And in terms of the fun factor of the whole project, it was through the roof. That’s why I could almost believe the quote that naturalismo posted on his blog where Banhart says “to our surprise and shock, we started writing songs, and we’ve written eight songs that I’m really proud of and excited about. We’re gonna record a real record.” These guys probably play together enough that they could make songs in their sleep and the breezy folky sound that they have really suits that type of spontaneity. Even when the drummer took over the mic and forgot the words he was able to just ad lib some with with a bubbly beat and tie it all together with a “Shabop Shalom” before the “what it is” refrain without losing anything at all from the song. Every mistake was met with boyish grins from the rest of the band that added to the feeling that I was watching a group of children that had somehow landed in men’s bodies perform their ideal comedy album. Devendra’s “dick skirt” pretty much set the tone of the set. He stopped the first song in protest of his picture being on the projector because it was “just too creepy.” Throughout the starts and stops the band promised to keep playing a Tears For Fear cover until their demands were met. It was really quite charming and I discovered that Banhart has pretty good comedic timing. I should also mention that at this time Rogove was playing what looked to be a bow and arrow. The instrumentation was pretty standard for the most part though with the exception of “Surfin” which had a guest harpist and where Georgeson took a break from his bass duties to blow a mean conch shell. If I do say so “Surfin” is one of the finest re-creations of the feeling one gets floating on surf. And seeing Georgeson hold that conch up with pride was one of my favorite moments of the show. The top one would have to be when Georegeson’s bass got caught on Banhart’s skirt and he had to hold up on a song saying “wait, my bass is caught on your dick-skirt.” That’s just something I could never imagine hearing. Male genitalia seems to be Megapuss’s bread and butter. They were everywhere. On their persons, in their songs, animated onto the projector slides. At one point a very happy, and very naked, Banhart and Rogrove were animated to look like they were jumping on an off camera trampoline slowly coming into frame to reveal some prosthetic dongs. That’s not to say there weren’t some really touching moments. “Chicken Tits” was a great song to “hold your special someone” to and had an old doo-wop feel to it; quite soulful.
I realize this rambling but I’ve tried to write a review three different times and I just don’t think there’s any other way it could be. I think Megapuss would be pleased by that. Banhart said “we wrote alot of songs, these were the worst. Which is kind of the point of this band.” You try translating that type of show into a blog post. Here’s the setlist:
To the Love
Adam and Steve
Duck People Duck Man
Crop Circle Jerk 94
I’ll leave you with my favorite Human Giant video
*edit* many thanks to naturalismo I caught a couple of pretty big mistakes on here thanks to reading his entry.