As the somnolent sun took to its slumber, the young and perpetually fashionable Los Angeles crowd was alight with anticipatory chatter. Mystery, it seemed, was half the fun. With beers in hand and smoke (of all kinds) in lungs, we waited for Megapuss to make their debut. The crowd was restless, curious and uncertain. The prevailing thought: “What the hell am I about to see?”
As the stars began to emerge I sat staring at the empty stage, thinking that mystique is an unfortunate concept. For an artist like Devendra Banhart whose own flesh is sometimes dwarfed by the size of his shadow, mystique is a burden and blessing. On the one hand, it’s what drew such thick crowds to the courtyard of the Hammer Museum in the first place; but, on the other, it forces the performer to reaffirm his own humanity beyond the gossamer cloth of expectation and illusion. Mystique is static, life is not.
While many Devendra fans may be eagerly awaiting another solo release, Megapuss will have to quench that desire for now. It’s easy to forget that his last album came out under a year ago. During the show I found myself at times somewhat yearning for the music that existed nearly a decade ago, but Devendra has grown and learned and changed into a wholly new person. It’s also easy to forget that this is MEGAPUSS and not an outlet for his solo work. If Devendra were reactionary, he wouldn’t be Devendra. Just as each passing moment is a new reality, we also become new. Devendra stepped onto the stage at 9pm wearing black spandex leggings, a droopy t-shirt, and a loincloth made of jiggling dildos. When one of Lauren Dukoff’s photographs of Devendra appeared on the screen behind the stage, Devendra aptly stated: “That’s not even me.” He was right. On that stage, in that moment, Devendra may have looked silly, but the honesty of his expression has always been his greatest charm.
For the next 45 minutes, the band performed their set with a joyous insouciance rare in a modern “indie rock” concert. The drummer wore a vibrant kimono. Noah Georgeson plucked bass and guitar wearing a Panama Jack safari getup. Greg Rogove, Devendra’s main partner in crime, complimented Devendra’s black leggings and t-shirt with a a white version. Neon sunglasses found their way onto everyone’s face at some point. The songs, as the Museum’s curator pointed out, “Were all written in ten minutes or less.” He continued to say, “I don’t know if that makes them geniuses, or idiots, or both.” The fact is, as I sat there smiling and laughing, they were both – and neither – at the same time. They were just having fun, and so was I.
More pics to come later!!