Don’t get all French on us, you’ll turn us on; oops too late
Last week, Air packed the Hammerstein Ballroom floor and mezzanines with slim people holding baguettes and wearing berets and black-and-white striped shirts. Just joking! The joint was full of twentysomething chiefs, sorority sisters, and Euro-trashed chumps. Heeding caution tape inexplicably ribboning off some rows, I sit behind a lass whose bristle-haired boyfriend belies his thuggish build by sensuously stroking her wavy blond locks and slobbering all over her face. I am convinced they’re gonna do it, right there, or that he’d at least slip it in for a second. I like to make sweet, sweet love to my girlfriend while listening to fop-pop as much as the next guy, but I do it at home, or maybe a secluded area in the park. (She has a boombox.)
If you don’t know, Air are two Frenchmen, Jean Benoit-Dunckel and Nicolas Godin, who sing like chicks. Talkie Walkie, the album they’re now supporting, is their finest yet, as bittersweet and irresistible as consummated crush-outs themselves. Jean and Nicolas stride onstage right on schedule and ease into “Venus,” which is not about de Milo or Broadway looking so medieval, but being a man from Mars and it not mattering: “If you walk in the sun,” the duo coo over a two-chord synth sway with a snare like buttons snapping, “I would be your shadow.” They’re dressed like shadows, in all black, and so are their drummer-bassist and longhair on keys. When they speak, it is in français, or about how the next one’s a love song. (“Don’t get all French on us,” a young lady mutters ominously. “I’ll turn on you.”)
Air clearly intend to seduce, perfectly reproducing their most recognizable songs—like “Playground Love,” the best music in a television ad ever—in humble service to an audience searching for release. The sandy-haired bed-whetter, who holds a guitar, whistles the hook from “Alpha Beta Gaga” perfectly, without even sipping water or a cocktail beforehand. (His partner plays a white keytar.) Come “Surfing on a Rocket,” when the synths twiddle and zoom and it’s “time for . . . surfing bones,” the above-mentioned blonde and her beefcake are full-on wrestling, nibbling at each other like baby tigers. Shortly before 11 p.m., they’re released into the wild. —Nick Catucci
Apostles ring in Easter by covering past hits of the Christ
The hot licks and Broadway brio of the soap-operatic psychodrama Jesus Christ Superstar were resurrected on Easter Sunday by the kaleidoscope of talent that is the Loser’s Lounge. Joe McGinty, leader of the ongoing tribute phenomenon’s core band, the Kustard Kings, fleshed out the orchestral Overture on keyboards, while David Terhune lashed his guitar, whipping up the crowd for a roster of Judases, each dressed in a Catholic-schoolgirl plaid skirt topped by a Catholic-schoolboy jacket and striped tie. Robin Goldwasser captured the doomed apostle’s passion with her roller-coaster vocals in “Heaven on Their Minds”; later, Julia Greenberg wailed, poleaxed with self-loathing, as the audience shouted at her not to accept “Blood Money.”
The dark side’s sartorial splendor continued with Wilder Selzer’s glitter-dusted Caiaphas, whose contrapposto hips, elbows, and chin lent thrusting malice to his fey baritone in “This Jesus Must Die.” Out-Heroding Herod, Anney Fresh, in pearls, pink Jackie O. suit, and towering platinum bob, redlined the camp meter with a Liza-esque “King Herod’s Song.” Contrastingly reserved in gray pinstripes, the aptly named Jebediah Parish rang the many moods of Jesus: serene falsetto resignation for “Poor Jerusalem” building to a spit-flecked, vein-popping, vocal brawl with Mark Rinzell’s Judas; toe-to-toe, the pair conjured the depthless emotions of love and betrayal at the heart of the Last Supper.
The second half of a generous set offered Jesus-themed one-shots like “Spirit in the Sky” and Depeche Mode’s “Personal Jesus,” plus Nick Danger channeling Monty Python in “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life.” Lianne Smith proved a soulful Bride O’ Christ, executing a sexy pas de deux with the mic stand during her husky “Jesus Is Waiting.” And though the Velvet Underground’s “Jesus” has never seemed more than some bible-camp song lost amidst the nuclear winter of Lou Reed’s soul, Kris Woolsey, radiant in a white choir robe, plunged into the spare melody’s terse lyrics, hitting higher notes than Lou ever dared—scaling some beatific peak where the final words “grace” and “Jesus” reverberate with solace and hope.
The Losers certainly didn’t set out to crucify Christ, but they nailed him nonetheless. —R. C. Baker
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on April 13, 2004