Saturday, July 29, 2017

Nowhere to Hide

Is it wrong to covet someone's go-go boots?

Knee high, shiny white and about the grooviest thing you could possibly wear to sing back-up on songs by the likes of the Ronettes, these were go-go boots for the ages. You couldn't try to look bad dancing in them.

Janet, the friend who was looking fabulous in them, was part of the Shangri-Lords, a band I hadn't seen since they last memorably performed at a pool party in August 2014. That night, members of the band had jumped in the pool mid-song and then - wait for it - climbed out and finished the song.

Needless to say, when I heard they were playing at Hardywood tonight, I planned my evening around it.

Eager to share the thrills I knew they'd deliver, I invited a fellow music-lover of the appropriate age to appreciate a band that covers girl group songs. That would be girl group songs sung by a male singer, but that's also sort of the point.

We started at My Noodle and Bar for a quick dinner fueled by everyone's favorite picnic wine, J. Mourat Rose, listening to the oddest soundtrack, which ranged from Tame Impala and Animal Collective to Aretha to, worst of all, 80s-era Yes.

Luckily the food and wine were good enough to make up for the latter.

We got to Hardywood just as the band was taking the stage to get the dance party started. Singer Michael had done it up right in a silver sequined blazer which he shed after only a few songs ("It's not the heat, it's the humidity!" he joked) to reveal an embroidered black shirt.

The moment they started "Be My Baby," with Janet on castanets, the crowd began to sing and/or dance along, although no one could beat back-up singers Janet and Lindsey for smooth moves. Someone had been practicing their choreography.

By the time they got to "Nowhere to Run," people were screaming and flailing with abandon, sort of like children at the beach. This is a band that's all about the fun.

When they did Leslie Gore's proto-feminist "You Don't Own Me," easily half the woman in the room began singing along, yours truly included. The woman in front of me belted it out to her date while using him as a pole to dance against.

You don't own me
Don't try to change me in any way
You don't own me
Do't tie me down cause I'd never stay

I don't tell you what to say
Oh, I don't tell you what to do
So just let me be myself'
That's all I ask of you

Just after it ended, the woman behind me leaned over and noted, "Most subtle coming-out song in history!" True enough.

The Shangri-Lords' momentum went out of control on "You Keep Me Hanging On," as Michael incorporated hand gestures the Supremes would have been proud of. And don't get me started on the masterful "whoa, whoa, whoas" coming from the back-up singers. Priceless.

You say you still care for me
But your heart and soul needs to be free
And now that you got your freedom, you wanna still hold on to me
You don't want me for yourself, so let me find somebody else

Set me free, why dontcha, babe
Get outta my life, why dontcha babe
Cause you don't really love me
You just keep me hangin on

There was one song that required Janet to shriek melodically on cue and my date and I marveled at her ability to do it repeatedly. You can't teach a person that kind of talent, kids, they're just born with it.

But then, she's also a wizard with go-go maintenance. Just yesterday, she'd posted, "Pro tip: magic erasers are pretty good at getting scuffs off white vinyl go-go boots."

If only I had a pair to scuff. Some girls have talent and all the luck.

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