Leslie Hall and her LY’s brought their feline, gem-sweater-loving magic to the Bluebird Theater on Friday to open for Stereo Total. Photos by Tina Hagerling.
Leslie Hall has the best tour bus. Ever. Well, it’s more of a tour van. Walking to the Bluebird on Friday, the bright photos of the band on the vehicle popped out among the rest of the cars at Paradise Cleaners, proudly proclaiming “Jams, Gems and Beautiful Gifts” in neon letters. Seeing the license plate, which really reads “SHAZAM,” got me even more pumped.
I arrived part-way into adorable locals b.sous’ set. The charming Brandi Shigley (also of Fashion Denver ) bounced around the stage chirping cuddly songs of love and cuteness like a twee-pop version of Betty Boop. Whether lovingly crooning the Francophile “Un Deux Trois” or the minimalist gem “Is It Me or Is It Monday,” Shigley’s energy and her band’s talent started off the night on a delightfully sugary note.
Next up came the band a big, glittering chunk of the audience (as made obvious by their gem sweaters and blinding leggings) was there to see: Leslie & the LY’s. The band is fronted by Iowa’s lady rapper Leslie Hall, an Internet celebrity known for her cafeteria lady-esque bouffant, thick glasses and collection of hundreds of gem sweaters found in Midwestern thrift stores. And, of course, her mad laptop hip-hop beats.
While the fashion-backward rapper’s music translates well to ironic dance parties and sensational Internet videos, she made it clear last Friday where her real prowess is: the stage. Hall’s live show had the eccentric creativity of an unaired episode of “Pee-Wee’s Playhouse”: a white screen projected videos of the band with the word “SHAZAM” arching over it in silver letters and the LY’s came out dressed as white tigers, complete with spandex body suits and giant fabric tiger heads.
Hall herself emerged from a makeshift box draped in gold fabric, sporting a gold spandex bellhop outfit complete with stuffed white tigers on the shoulders and a Britney Spears head-mic, yelling, “They call this place Denver. I call it DANCE-ver!” before starting into a set that couldn’t have lost the interest of even the most A.D.D. 8-year-old.
Among favorites off her newest release, “Cewebrity,” “Midwest Diva,” “How We Go Out” and “Zombie Killer” (which Hall said she plays to “save lives” and offers the advice “Shoot them in the brains/even the little kids”) Leslie and her LY’s pulled out the kind of imaginative theatrics I haven’t seen since my 14-year-old Aquabats-lovin’ days. It was super rad. During the anthem “Gem Sweater,” Hall brought the best-dressed audience members onstage to dance and ceremonially named one young man’s gem sweater something like “Zipper-Baby-Honey-Blasters” and handed the lucky owner a certificate of authenticity.
The over-the-top camp was met well by the adoring audience who proved her christening of “Dance-ver” to be correct by creating a mini-disco in the pit in front of the stage. Even after their own music ended, the band stayed on to dance to one more song: Shania Twain’s “Man, I Feel Like a Woman.” Following the spirited live performance, Hall still had the energy to go down into the audience afterward and reward her fans with hugs and high-fives. Which, really, is just sweet, awesome and sadly, pretty rare.
Unfortunately, about a quarter of the audience cleared out before headliners Stereo Total came onstage. While nothing could really match the damaged glitz of Leslie & The LYs, the Berlin-based duo put on an equally satisfying show full of danceable, Euro-pop hits. Armed with guitars that came in both heart and rectangle shapes, a drum set, synthesizer, keyboard and neon green kazoo, mod-styled Francoise Cactus and Brezel Goring switched nonchalantly from instrument to instrument throughout the electro-pop show.
The dance party in the pit continued with Stereo Total’s short, dangerously infectious songs like “I Love You, Ono,” “C’est La Vie” and “Musique Automatique,” all perfectly offset by the duo’s charming accents. During the sexually-charged “L’Amour A 3,” Francoise called an audience member onstage to sing the song about, yep, a fetish for threesomes.
Playing what Stereo Total described as “a song in English, kind of,” the crowd cheered to hear a euro-fied version of the Rolling Stones “Satisfaction,” as well as another wonderfully distorted cover of Salt-n-Pepa’s “Push It.” The set culminated in the finale with a dance party featuring b.sous, Leslie & the LY’s and the nimble members of the audience who managed to climb onstage for the manic club-hating punk anthem “Everybody in the Discotheque (I Hate).”
As the hilarity of a group of people dancing to a song in a club about, well, hating people who dance to music in clubs washed over me, I walked out of the Bluebird and past Leslie and the LY’s SHAZAM van. I briefly considered jumping in the back and becoming the newest white tiger in the band. I’m still kind of bummed I didn’t do it.
Robin Edwards is a Denver writer and regular contributor to Reverb.
Tina Hagerling is a Denver-based freelance photographer and web designer. See more of her work here.
MORE PHOTOS: Leslie & the Ly’s