Photos by G. Various Artists.
Bjork wears Marjan Pejoski’s Swan Dress (2001)
As a big fan of singer/artist Bjork, I was pleasantly surprised to hear that the Museum of Modern Art would host a “mid-career retrospective” on the Icelandic goddess in 2015. I will report on the exhibit in a moment because by now, if you’ve seen any press on this exhibit, it has been overwhelmingly negative. I have to agree, but only because Bjork is such a unique and amazing artist, the exhibit does not do her career much justice, especially to those who use this exhibit to get an education in all things Bjork. I enjoyed myself, but for a retrospective, so many great possibilities for a wonderful exhibit fell through the cracks.
Partial gallery view of Bjork’s singles covers.
The show opened to the public on March 8, 2015, so naturally Gail of Worleygig and I checked the show out on the first day. I cannot say this is how your experience will go, but we got to the museum around 11 o’clock am and our timed ticket to view the exhibit was for 12:45, but you may want to prepare for a longer line, just in case. The exhibit consists of 3 parts: 1. A screening room with a video for the song “Black Lake,” which has been specially commissioned for this exhibit. The video is about 10 minutes long and is about Bjork’s breakup with artist Matthew Barney (whose collaborations with Bjork are ignored in the exhibit). Second (and this is what you need timed tickets for) is “Songlines,” a quasi-immersive experience into each of Bjork’s solo albums, featuring handwritten lyrics, costumes and miscellaneous ephemera from her solo work. Last, a screening room features all of Bjork’s music videos (though her last album “Biophilia”).
Bjork – All Is Full of Love
I guess this is as good as any place to start talking about what the exhibit lacks. Bjork’s early career is completely ignored – from her childhood singing (she released her first album in 1977, in case you didn’t know) to her beginnings in various Icelandic punk bands (and one of them was called Tippi Tikarrass which translates to “Cork the Bitch’s Ass.” The public at large should be educated in this!) Also ignored, the band that put Bjork on the world map in the late 1980s – The Sugarcubes. Instead, you start with Bjork’s solo album “Debut” (1993). You walk through a hallway that features running loops of each of Bjork’s tours – packaged in a room that is not conducive to spending lots of time and makes the non-diehard gloss over the amazing performance artist that Bjork is in concert. You are given a headset and you get to hear a story that has nothing to do with the recording of the music and instead tells you the journey of a girl, whose story may or may not be true, but again taking the focus away from all the rules Bjork was breaking as she embarked on her solo career – working with cutting edge producers, making artistic videos, making singles that had extremely diverse (even if sometimes annoying) remixes, her usage of interesting artwork for her releases and most of all, her carving out a place in the music landscape with her unique lyrics and quirky personality, never selling out by going mainstream and always remaining a true avant-garde artist.
Bjork – Venus as a Boy Lyrics
Typically each room focuses on one of her solo albums (aside from the remix album “Telegram,” the soundtrack to her collaboration with Matthew Barney “Drawing Restraint 9” her own “Selmasongs” record, which is the soundtrack to the critically acclaimed film she starred in called “Dancer in the Dark” and even the “Army of Me” cover album, where 20 versions of that song which were submitted by fans and the moneys from the project went to 2004 Tsunami victim relief). The exhibit does not benefit from having the music videos separated from the props on display from each album because as you see the evolution of her videos, you will also hear the evolution of her music. For the die-hards, we already know this, but to someone discovering the world of Bjork for the first time, they have to dig really deep to get some answers, and Bjork’s music can be extremely challenging at times. Besides, seeing clips of appropriate videos would at least give the uninitiated a bigger clue into what Bjork is all about, as they are not likely to sit down for 2 hours to watch Bjork’s videos in a separate part of the museum.
Bjork by Alexander McQueen
Some of the most iconic outfits Bjork has worn are on display from a dress made by Alexander McQueen to the infamous Swan Dress, and in fact, the mannequins look eerily like Bjork. There’s nothing in the exhibit to tell you how she ended up working with these people or how the costumes fit into the theme from the album. Also absent are sales figures, track lists, several officially released coffee table books about Bjork’s work, awards and any sort of mention of her collaborations with the likes of Thom Yorke of Radiohead or writing the title track for Madonna’s album “Bedtime Stories.” Even the groundbreaking interactive “Biophilia” app, which was acquired by MoMA, doesn’t even make an appearance! Whoever curated this exhibit did a huge disservice to Bjork’s career.
Bjork – Biophilia Era
The items on display are certainly cool and interesting, and if you are a die-hard, seeing so many infamous Bjork-items are a treat, so I enjoyed the exhibit, as did Gail, a lover of art and not a huge fan of Bjork’s music. However, there have been many exhibits where I was unfamiliar with the artist on display as I walked into the show and when I left, I felt I had a much better understanding of their work. With this Bjork show, it is definitely not the case.
Bjork – Volta Era
I think you can appreciate this exhibit no matter what your level of Bjork fandom, but if you don’t take the time to dig deep with her work, which many viewers will not, the true artistry of Bjork’s career will not be seen or heard, and that is a tragedy. Let us know what you think if you go in the comments section.
“Bjork” at MoMa runs through June 7, 2015.
Bjork – Volta Era
Bjork – Joga Costume
Bjork – Hyperballad Shoes
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Photos and words by G.
Gaga ooh la la! On May 13, 2014 Lady Gaga made her return to New York’s Madison Square Garden with a sold out “ArtRAVE” as part of her ArtPop Ball Tour. For nearly 2 hours (and for those wondering, she went on around 9:45 pm – doors were at 8), Lady Gaga and her dancers hosted the biggest party Manhattan had to offer for the night.
Lady Gaga featuring Jeff Koons’ Gazing Ball
The stage had ‘legs’ where Gaga and her dancers were able to run around the whole of the floor of Madison Square Garden and they didn’t stop moving for the duration of the show, save for when Gaga sat down at the piano. The bad part about the stage set up was that there were large portions of the show where depending on your seat, you only got to see the backs of everyone. My only complaint was that I really didn’t get to see a lot of the visuals that were shown on the screens behind the dancers. As you can see below, this was my view of Gaga for a large portion of the show.
My view for the majority of the Gaga show.
The best part of the show for me was Gaga’s love for her fans. She is truly grateful for the position she is in and she expressed her gratitude to the audience throughout the show. And unlike other superstars who say those things and then when you catch them with the cameras off, their actions are quite the opposite, Gaga puts her money where her mouth is, so to speak, and treats her fans with respect and love. At one point in the show, fans threw gifts and letters to her on stage and she read a few letters to the crowd. She invited those people to come party with her backstage after the show! What other superstar does that? Crickets chirping…
Before a piano rendition of “Born This Way” (not unlike this version that I saw earlier in the year), she mentioned that many of her friends and early supporters were at the show and she tearfully thanked them all for believing in her. She inspired the audience to keep being her inspiration and she told the crowd so many times to be who you truly are without apologies. Clearly, you can’t and shouldn’t compare Gaga’s show to Miley Cyrus’ concert, but for someone with such young fans who don’t know tons about the world, the message Gaga puts out is inspiring and empowering and Miley’s message is basically “please degrade yourself for attention.”
Gaga had a ton of costume changes, including an octopus-like outfit which you can see above, but to be completely honest, after seeing Gaga a bunch of times in concert, I don’t think this was the best Gaga show I’ve been to. Perhaps she’s done so many outrageous things that she is having a hard time topping herself and perhaps because her newer material is not that strong, that made for some lulls in the show.
Lady Gaga balancing chairs on her head.
There were many highs though. She performed all (or bits of) most of her great songs including “Poker Face,” “Just Dance,” “Telephone,” “Alejandro” (of which a video will be coming soon, so stay tuned!), “Paparazzi,” “Bad Romance” and a large portion of “ArtPop” was performed including the title track, “Aura,” “Mary Jane Holland,” “MANiCURE,” “Swine,” “Sexx Dreams,” “Applause” “Do What You Want,” and rapper T.I. came out for a guest appearance on “Jewels N’ Drugs.”
Did you go to the ArtRAVE? What did you think? Tell us about your experience in the comments section.
Lady Gaga – The Merch
The setlist was:
Artpop / G.U.Y. / Donatella / Fashion! / Venus / MANiCURE / Cake Like Lady Gaga / Just Dance / Poker Face / Telephone / Partynauseous / Paparazzi / Do What U Want / Born This Way (Piano Version) / Jewels N’ Drugs (with T.I.) / Aura / Sexx Dreams / Mary Jane Holland / Alejandro / Ratchet / Bad Romance / Applause / Swine
Encore: Gypsy (not the Fleetwood Mac song)
Words and photos by G.
After seeing Lady Gaga perform at Roseland Ballroom on April 4, 2014, I thought I’d seen the biggest spectacle possible that weekend, but I was dead wrong. Miley Cyrus’ Bangerz (sic) tour came to Barclays Center in the dreaded Brooklyn on April 5, 2014 and full disclosure: I expected to despise the show. From what little I’d heard Of Miley’s music up to walking into the venue, I was not impressed with it (despite giving credit where credit is due – she can actually sing). I will say, that I left the venue not thinking very much more of her music (again, giving her full credit for singing live unlike so many other pop stars), but as far as the performance, it was probably one of the best shows of the year (and if this is your first time seeing the site, know that I see several hundred bands a year, so this speaks volumes). As you read my observations about the Bangerz Tour, please note that I’m going to have to get up on my soap box a few times.
1. Miley Cyrus doesn’t give a FUCK! I think it’s commendable that she started off as a squeaky clean child star and not only did a 180 degree turn, but she basically has poured gasoline all over her old self and has lit the match. Soap Box Alert: While oldsters like myself were able to look at the show from an objective point of view, having a blast people watching and also observing the spectacle of the show itself, it made me seriously fear for the future of the planet. The audience featured tons of girls (without their parents) who looked like they were seriously underage and who were all dressed like whores (low cut everything and leaving very little to the imagination). I am not a prude. If you want to dress like a whore or a nun, more power to you! What is concerning is that I am smart and old enough to know the difference between self expression and self degradation. I am not sure the majority of the concert goers are that fortunate. As evidenced by the excessive selfie-taking instead of being present in the moment, if the audience by and large walked away from this concert feeling empowered in ANY way, the world is in serious trouble!
2. Before the show started, the music over the loud system had generous helpings of profanity-laden songs using the “N-Word” and explicit lyrics such as “suck my dick” and “motherfucker” and these songs were audience sing-a-longs. So I am confused – as a white person, if I use the “N-Word,” I am going to hell, yet it’s perfectly ok to use it in a pop song and is appropriate to encourage young kids to sing it?! If people are going to still use the word, the stigma that comes along with it either needs to go away across the board or stop jumping down people’s throats when you are not treated equally. Playing this kind of music before the show started sets such a bad example to her young and impressionable audience. I would have preferred “common sense lessons” being blasted over the loud speakers with phrases such as “IF YOU ARE GOING TO TEXT INCESSANTLY, YOU ARE NOT LIVING IN THE MOMENT” or “YOU ARE NOT THE ONLY PERSON ON THE PLANET SO PLEASE BE CONSIDERATE OF OTHERS” or “THERE IS SO MUCH AMAZING ART OUT THERE ON THIS PLANET, EXPLORE IT AND QUIT WASTING YOUR TIME WITH THIS CRAP.”
Miley Cyrus Merch
3. The merch featured an inflatable banana (!!!!) that said “Miley Cyrus Bangerz,” low cut panties with a tongue sticking out over the crotch and a poster of Miley where she is pretty much showing her pussy, which appears to be clean shaven and makes her look even younger than her 21 years, according to the picture. Hey, if she can show it, I can talk about it. I am 100% guilt free. I hate sounding like a prude, because I am one of the most liberal people out there, but showing that much skin when her body looks way younger than her 21 years is VERY CREEPY and encourages a lot of bad behavior from the young and old.
4. The visuals Miley used were so good! From the opening of the show, the visual presentation was damn near perfect. A giant version of her face started the show on a screen and as she did one of her signature looks of sticking her tongue out, a giant tongue appeared from the screen which turned into a slide and then she slid down it and the show began! Later on, there was every permutation of trippy visuals that would have not been out of place at a Flaming Lips or Grateful Dead show! But of course, during a costume change, there was a several minute montage of Miley wearing next to nothing and in bondage gear (see below for a tame picture). Again, very artful pictures and for someone like me, I think the pictures were very sexy, but I’m a gay guy who can appreciate fierceness. To so many young kids in the audience who just want to emulate their idol, can you imagine how many extra nudie kid pix are going to be out there because of this?
Miley Cyrus – screen projection
5. Miley Cyrus’ dog died earlier in the week, and she was understandably and visibly distraught. She paid tribute to her dog no less than 5 times, including a gigantic inflatable dog (see below for a glimpse of how large the dog was), which of course she dry humped.
Miley Cyrus paying tribute to her deceased dog Floyd but humping his leg.
6. Miley Cyrus delivers a stadium-worthy performance, unquestionably. She interacts with the audience, gets them all riled up and has them eating out of the palm of her hand. So many bands have forgotten what you are supposed to do when you perform in a stadium. Bands like Arctic Monkeys who stand in front of a thin row of lights that are placed over the letters AM, clearly don’t need to have dancing midgets, but come on bands, give us a show! And Miley’s show featured insanely cool visual projections, midget dancers, dancers dressed up as fluorescent teddy bears, movable parts on the stage (including a car and a bed), and of course my favorite part of the show – a flying hot dog (see picture later)! The costumes were over the top and speaking of costumes, it’s a wonder why Miley even bothered getting dressed at all because she was practically naked and shaking her ass (which was visible) for the duration of the 2 hour show (except for one outfit, though that was sheer). Again, as a 21 year old, her body is in great shape (I personally think she looks like a 15 year old girl, which is what makes her nudity so creepy to me), so I say get naked, live long and prosper. But again (soap box alert), do the people in her audience know the difference of when it’s appropriate to express yourself and when you are inviting lots of perverts to stare at your way young looking body by exploiting yourself? Miley has a team of people working with her (and exploiting her with her consent for assloads of money that she is surely raking in during this sold out tour), but do your children have someone to turn to when they set themselves up for the inevitable exploitation and the emotional scarring that is almost certain to come from emulating Miley? And if not, you just have to think about all the negativity that puts out into the world whether that comes in the form of kids growing up with trust issues or negative body issues, etc. It’s scary and completely avoidable.
7. Miley encouraged the crowd to express themselves too. She encouraged pot smoking, same sex kissing and even had a song where she told the crowd to get naked and the more naked they got, the better chance they had of appearing on the big screen projecting out to the crowd. I am all for pot smoking, nudity and same sex kissing, so it’s hard not to sound like a curmudgeon, but it only seems like Miley is trying to be controversial by being so extreme. I recently saw footage of old interviews with her where she pretty much denounced homosexuality and drug taking due to her religious upbringing, so I feel like she is not only full of shit in her new found independence, but she is setting such a bad example purposely when she knows there are tons of young people looking up to her when she’s not going to be there for them when they develop complexes about all the things she encouraged them to do.
8. She covered Bob Dylan (“You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go”), Lana Del Rey (“Summertime Sadness”), Coldplay (“The Scientist”) and Dolly Parton (“Jolene”). Amazing to me that she can dabble in music this diverse when her own songs sound completely generic, overproduced and unoriginal. And the sad thing is, because her audience is so young and inexperienced, they don’t know that there is a world of amazing music out there because they are being force fed this auto-tuned crapola.
9. Each number seemed to get more ridiculous than the one before it, and though it was visually amusing, it seemed like a desperate cry for attention. In the two hour show, we saw Miley dancing with midgets, spreading her legs on top of a gold car, humping the leg of a blow up dog, Miley touching herself on a bed surrounded by all of her dancers, leotards creeping so far up her ass they were practically wiping her pancreas (to quote Andrew Dice Clay), twerking, inflatable animals, fluorescent life sized teddy bears, insanely trippy visual projections, people in the audience throwing masks on stage and Miley putting them on and singing with them on and last but not least, my favorite part of this show…
Miley Cyrus Rides A Flying Hot Dog!!!
10. She rode a flying hot dog!!!!! EPIC!!!!
Again, parents please talk to your kids and tell them what is up. Please teach them common sense. I’m not saying “right and wrong.” Those are a matter of opinion. Common sense is being cognoscente of the fact that YOU ARE NOT THE ONLY PERSON ON THE PLANET, SO PAY ATTENTION AND BE CONSIDERATE OF OTHERS! Please tell them when it’s appropriate to express yourself and when it makes you look like a fucking slut. And foremost, please culture them in art and entertainment so this horrible music will die once and for all.
The setlist (spelling errors in tact) was:
SMS (Bangerz) / 4×4 / Love Money Party / My Darlin’ / Maybe You’re Right / FU / Do My Thang / #GETITRIGHT / Can’t Be Tamed / Adore You / Drive / Rooting For My Baby / You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go (Bob Dylan Cover) / Summertime Sadness (Lana Del Rey Cover) / The Scientist (Coldplay Cover) / Jolene (Dolly Parton Cover) / 23 / On My Own / Someone Else.
Encore: We Can’t Stop / Wrecking Ball
Encore 2: Party in the USA
G Rides A Flying Hot Dog!
For the record: Will I put any Miley Cyrus music on my ipod? Doubtful. Will I go see her in concert again? Absofuckinglutely.
Photos and words by G.
Lady Gaga at Roseland on April 4, 2014
Lady Gaga is performing 7 shows at the iconic New York venue Roseland Ballroom shuts its doors for good on April 7, 2014. I attended her show on April 4, 2014 and before I give you 10 observations from the show, I’d like to reminisce a bit about Roseland. I’ve seen countless shows at Roseland from Radiohead to Lily Allen to New Order. The venue housed The Black Party and it was also where I danced on stage with Grace Jones! Such memories! Roseland you will be missed and it’s tragic that the rumour is that the building will be turned into condominiums! But anyway, here are 10 observations from the Lady Gaga show on April 4, 2014.
Lady Gaga at Roseland on April 4, 2014
1. Lady Gaga performed for a paltry one hour. Even new bands that barely have one album out play for longer. I totally get that these are “warm up” shows for her ArtPop Ball tour, but that is ridiculously short. Let the rumours start as to why she was unable to play for longer? Is she on drugs? Is she getting off drugs? Is she just lazy? The show should have been advertised differently if it was going to be that short. For someone that loves her fans as much as she does, that’s a shitty thing to do to them. Which brings me to observation number two:
Lady Gaga at Roseland on April 4, 2014
2. The VIP package made you pay twice as much as a normal ticket cost for the show. Though it did get you early entry to the venue (Entry at 5:30 pm. She went on at 9:15-ish), you did not have a special section to stand in, so if you got there late, you were screwed! In essence, the “VIP Access” made you have to stand there longer than everyone else and though it was nice that you were given a commemorative bag and poster (with poster tube), they gave it to you when you walked into the venue, so you have to schelp it around all night! In the mob scene that was the “pit” at Roseland, that was not a nice thing to do to your fans. However, as Roseland has notoriously bad sight lines, I guess it was either this or not be able to see at all.
Lady Gaga at Roseland on April 4, 2014
3. Her voice sounds great. If the drug rumours are in deed true, it hasn’t affected her voice. She can genuinely sing! In fact, you can see a video of “Born This Way” shot by yours truly at this link (which will open in a new window).
4. If you tried to sneak up to the front, the Little Monsters will cut you! Granted, I thought that was kind of awesome because those of us in the front paid our dues for those coveted spots, but still – there ain’t no fury like a Little Monster scorned. The people standing near me and my friend at the show were total characters – on our left, we had a guy with the best biceps I’ve ever seen arguing with his sister about family business all night and on our right, a woman who literally had brought a drug store with her to the show. In the course of the evening, the woman drank mini bottles of alcohol which can be found at liquor stores, smoked several joints (she did share though!), had an E-cigarette and snorted coke – and ALL in plain view. Go on, girl!
5. When Gaga addressed the crowd, she used a squeaky Olive Oyl type voice which was ridiculous and annoying. When you are performing with your pussy out, it’s really hard to buy the “I’m so innocent” act.
6. 4 of the 11 songs she played featured her sitting down behind the piano. Also, one of the pianos was stationed in a spot where the over $500 tickets were, and while those people got a little extra value for their ticket price, the rest of the venue could pretty much not see a thing during that section of the show. When 15 minutes of her 60 minute show are being cockblocked by bad sight lines, that is NOT COOL!
7. Performing in your panties and grabbing your crotch is all the rage!
8. Gaga looked bloated. I’m not trying to start any blasphemous rumours, but as we all know, if you really break your hip, the recovery time is around a year and a half, not 4 months. Just sayin’.
Lady Gaga Roseland Merch
9. The Merch. – “Lady Fucking Gaga” T-shirts and cups. Enough said.
10. She lives for the applause.
As I got to the end of my list, I realized it sounds like I am complaining. To some extent, I am complaining because I see A LOT of live entertainment, and I look at everything objectively (though I am completely grateful for the experience). I feel it’s the job of the performer to make me leave with a smile on my face. Gaga definitely did that and she puts on a good show (despite this one being criminally short) but in some ways the joy I felt was overshadowed by a bunch of douchey moves that her team concocted to torture her fans that have little or no basis in comparison to know the difference.
What was your experience like? Tell us in the comments section.
The setlist was:
Born This Way (acoustic) / Black Jesus – Amen Fashion / Monster / Bad Romance / Sexxx Dreams / Dope / You and I / Poker Face (acoustic) / Just Dance / Applause.
Photos by G.
Lady Gaga Art Pop
New York Little Monsters! You have mere hours to see a pop-up exhibit of all things ArtPop. Lady Gaga’s new album “ArtPop” dropped this week and to celebrate, she opened a 3 day only exhibit of Gaga ephemera in both New York and Los Angeles.
“Do What U Want” art work
Hanging from the walls are gigantic canvases of the artwork that will feature on upcoming singles.
Lady Gaga and Jeff Koons
Photos of her working with the CD cover artist Jeff Koons also feature throughout the exhibit.
Lady Gaga – Costumes
Many of her costumes are also on display.
“Dope” cover art
The horrifying cover art of “Dope” where Gaga has a creepy looking grill in her mouth can also be seen.
I need you more than dope
Lyrics from “PopArt” are all over the walls of the pop-up space.
Gaga’s “Binary Chair” that was featured in photo shoots is also on exhibit.
Lots of nudity features in the artwork for the singles on this album. Above is Stephen Klein’s photo for “Gypsy.”
If you are fascinated by Jeff Koons’ “Gazing Ball,” you can see photos from his 2013 exhibit of the same name here (link will open in a new window).
The Meat Dress!
The infamous meat dress is on display (though it looks a little bit like beef jerky now).
One Second I’m A Koons Then Suddenly The Koons Is Me
This is possibly the best lyric Gaga has ever had, according2g.
Last, but certainly not least – there is merch for sale! Go ga ga for Gaga at The Lady Gaga ARTPOP Pop Up Store. The exhibit runs from Monday November 11 – Wednesday November 13, from Noon to 9:00 PM Daily! Find it at 417 West 14th Street just West of Ninth Avenue (Near the Apple Store). The Los Angeles exhibit is located at 1538 North Cahuenga Blvd. You can see more NY photos at Worley Gig. Rah rah, oh ma ma!