The Pretty Reckless House of Blues Bronze Peacock Room February 18, 2011
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The strangest thing about seeing The Pretty Reckless Friday night wasn't the fact that the show ended by 10 p.m., contained just 11 songs, or even that it was filled with boys and girls barely old enough to drive. It was the fact that we actually wished that lead singer Taylor Momsen wasn't so scantily clad.
Is this us ripping up our man card?
No doubt hitting the stage in a red sheer teddy, matching garters and six-inch old-school hooker boots shouldn't be a bad thing, but when it's a 17 year-old girl with more than enough vocal power to negate the need for a cheap auxiliary thrill, it's disconcerting. And compared to most of her influences and contemporaries, her get-up was quasi-tame.
Now we just sound prudish.
Aftermath isn't sure if shame is the right word for watching an hour of Momsen, half-naked and writhing, in a small room with a crowd of tweens, teens and old creepers. We do know that the shock and titillation of it all went out the window by song two, and we were more interested in hearing her voice than waiting for a wardrobe malfunction.
Momsen has been blessed with a voice at least two decades older than she is. It's a husky, throaty bellow, not quite scream-y enough to be shrill. Imagine Avril Lavigne's 2003 voice with a nicotine tint. It comes in a jail-baiting image, part Runaways Cherie Currie and/or Courtney Love circa 1991, with a whole lot more skin showing.
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Friday night's set list was almost all of Pretty Reckless' recent debut LP, Light Me Up, plus a cover of Audioslave's "Like A Stone," which, to give you an idea of just where her voice is at, Momsen nailed. The older girls in the crowd sang along to the 2003 radio hit; to the younger kids, Audioslave might as well be what supergroup Damn Yankees were to people Aftermath's age ten years ago.
Each song came with an eerie sing-along (which spooked our weathered photographer), like a demented children's chorus, on some of the more coarsely written cuts. As far as a front woman, Momsen is still a little wobbly, though. Well, the boys and men in the crowd were locked in, and the girls were screaming, so maybe stage banter doesn't mean shit yet.
We hate to get all fatherly (ick), or big brotherly (yuck), but we will say that Momsen doesn't need to show her bare ass to get people to listen to her pipes. We would have enjoyed her voice even if she were in a turtleneck and jeans.
But that's not rock and roll at all, now is it? We get that. Showmanship, danger, glamour, sex appeal, societal norms, Lolita, Britney... the past 50 years of rock trumps everything.
Personal Bias: Is this where we are supposed to say we have a bias for jailbait in lingerie, or something about female-fronted rock bands? Passing on this one.
The Crowd: Tons of boys and girls, maybe Momsen's age. Twentysomethings with their interest piqued by her Gossip Girl role. Older gentlemen with expensive cameras and questionable motives.
Overheard In the Crowd: "This song is about fucking a priest."
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Random Notebook Dump: Taylor Momsen is basically the kind of rock star that Lady Gaga wants to be, but can't anymore.