Kool Keith and Har Mar dazzle and bore the Triple Rock

Categories: Concert Review

There's a fine line between boredom and confidence, and last night at the Triple Rock, Har Mar Superstar and Kool Keith spent the evening teetering on that razor's edge in a mercurial, uneven show. At times raptly entertaining, at times stunningly flat, both performers seemed to beg the question of themselves: were they letting their well-earned stage presence carry the show, or were they just phoning it in?

There's a follow up question: if you've paid $20 for the privilege of watching them, is there a real difference?

Har Mar Superstar stepped the stage in a flowing crimson shawl. Through the set's first few songs, which included "DUI" and "Cut Me Up" off of The Handler as well as a few cuts from his most recent full length Dark Touches, the whirling dynamo bore an uncomfortable, mesmerizing resemblance to Stevie Nicks. His backing band, which featured Jeff Quinn from local three-piece His Mischief, was dressed in all white, standing as uniform and stately as H & M mannequins.

It became immediately clear that, despite his requisite strip tease, his mandatory headstand, and his mid-song trip to the bar for Jag bombs, this was not the Har Mar Superstar of old. What once seemed audacious stunts now seemed rote routines. When at last he stripped to his underwear, it was clear that he had hardly broken a sweat. And there was hardly a mid-song lip lock to be voyuristically enjoyed. Take this meandering, if technically adept Har Mar back to the Har Mar Supsertar of 2002, and a fist fight would likely break out between the two. Without his usual front-row make outs, what's left to pick up the performative slack?

Tillmann is lucky as hell that his voice hasn't failed him, and that he continues to write pop songs of great daring and inspiration. With the exception of "Creative Juices," a dud from Dark Touches that finds Tillmann running and gunning through a clearance sale of pop culture references, taking pot shots at Swayze and IMDB and exposing his meager hip-hop skills as he goes, Tillmann's songcraft continues to develop (to call the new stuff a maturation would be a perversion of the word--he's still a fat white guy talking about fucking hot women).

Good thing, too--for a few fleeting moments, you could almost be fooled into thinking Tillmann bored of the whole affair.

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