Team Starkid w/Charlene Kaye, Darren Criss and The Gregory Brothers
Sunday, November 27
Better than: Getting back to Hogwarts.
Team Starkid’s Harry Potter parody “A Very Potter Musical” shot them to Internet fame in 2009, and since then the spread-out troupe has continued to churn out productions, from the raunchy musical “Me and My Dick” to the intergalactic spacebug love story “Starship.” One thing the spread-out troupe hasn’t been able to do in the past two years, though, is tour—until this month. Since that first clip pinged around the Internet, founding member (and primary songwriter and Harry Potter) Darren Criss soared to fame as Blaine Anderson on Glee, but the diehards don’t make much of a distinction between the most press-scrutinized member of the group and his fellow Starkids. Everyone is subject to ear-piercing screams, recitation of lyrics, and uproarious laughter at in-jokes—and all were in full effect on Sunday, at their inaugural tour’s final stop.
Local singer (and former Criss collaborator) Charlene Kaye opened the show at 4 p.m. She regularly plays Rockwood Music Hall, but she rose to Gramercy’s larger setting with material from her forthcoming album Animal Love. Criss joined Kaye for a surprise duet and followed up her performance with a short set that steered clear of his Starkid numbers to focus on material from his EP Human and trot out a solo piano version of “Teenage Dream,” the song that shot him into the Glee spotlight last year. The crowd became a sea of raised digital cameras and iPhones, and Criss’s set was online before the show had finished. The Gregory Brothers, the team behind “AutoTune The News” and “Bed Intruder Song,” followed, and last night’s show might have marked the first time that they weren’t the most Internet-famous act on whatever bill they’d been included on. Which isn’t to say the Starkid crowd didn’t appreciate the performance; they all chimed in with their various meme-ready hits.
When Starkid finally took the stage themselves the crowd had already been at Gramercy for more than an hour, and the touring cast—made up of Joey Richter, Lauren Lopez, Joe Walker, Brian Holden, Jamie Lyn Beatty, Meredith Stepien and Dylan Saunders—began a more than 20 song set that jumped across four of their five productions and lasted almost three hours. The group performed in various permutations, slotting in different Starkids for fill roles of members not on the tour. At the previous night’s show Criss had joined in on several numbers, but a late flight back to work in LA kept him sidelined except for one unexpected performance of “Not Alone,” a Potter musical number that he sometimes performs as an anti-bullying anthem. With a setlist so flush it’s hard to pick out shining points, but the encore of “Days of Summer” and “Gettin’ Back To Hogwarts,” both from the Potter musicals, proved that even after four hours of show the fans would have been happy to double that with unparalleled energy. Pacing and a dire need for editing plague the Starkids, with the set dragging overfull in the middle with slower numbers, but what faults they may have they make up for with oodles of charm. If you get Starkid, the revue feels amazingly fun. If you’re out of the loop, the night is still enjoyable but ultimately confusing. The group themselves pokes fun at this problem (Stepien mimicked befuddled parents accompanying their minor children in her “Coolest Girl” lead-in—”Is this what my kid listens to? Where’s Darren Criss?”), but when you can practically sell out a 21-show tour in minutes, including pricey VIP options, mass accessibility isn’t the biggest concern. This tour was for the legions of Starkid fans, who until recently were forced to connect with the group online, or travel to the Midwest for one of their productions, and not so much for the uninitiated. Perhaps that’s step two in Team Starkid.
Critical bias: I’m a self-admitted Gleek, but I’ve actually been aware of Starkid since they hit the Internet in 2009. While there’s sometimes tension between the different fandoms it was nice to see none of that last night.
Overheard: “The combined age of everyone in here is still double digits.”
Random notebook dump: I pride myself on being up to date on memes and viral videos, but somehow I’d missed the eHarmony cat lover.