August 18, 2006
Gnarls Barkley and Peeping Tom, SummerStage
Last night was the end of this year's SummerStage concert series, and also the final show of Gnarls Barkley's summer tour. With all the hype they've gotten since the spring, and their non-stop touring schedule since then, I was a little concerned they would already be burned out. They totally weren't at all. Their costumes were from School of Rock (Cee-Lo and Danger Mouse in short pants and red kneesocks) and they raised their goblet.
They did every song on the album except for "Online", as well as covers of The Greenhornes and The Doors, with pure energy and style. Cee-Lo Green is an unstoppably awesome front man--genuine, charming, funny, and soulful. He asked the crowd several times if we could dig it. We could. Danger Mouse stayed up on a raised platform, busy with his keyboards and other machines, but laughed with everyone else at Cee-Lo's banter and got down to the music now and then.
The crowd was a weird mix of slack-jawed scenesters, enthusiastic crinkly-faced music fans, and a lot of teenagers. I saw several sets of braces in my immediate vicinity. Gnarls Barkley have been such a sensation this summer, I guess it's not surprising that they attract a wide spectrum of people, but it was still sort of strange to see so many white high school kids grooving with grown-up rock fans to what is essentially radio-friendly gospel and soul.
The opening band was Peeping Tom, which is Mike Patton from Faith No More's new band. Mike Patton is as much of a maniac as ever, and still likes to do his crazy vocal stylings, screeches, yowls, grunts, and chants--my concert companion described him as a heavy metal human beatbox. A lot of the crowd went absolutely nuts for this band (the crinkly-faced rock fans) while the teenagers stood around looking like they had no idea what was going on. Mike Patton still has the same spasmic energy as he's always had, and at one point grew frustrated with the weak response he was getting from the audience, telling us we were a "Starbucks crowd". That got people all riled up, and he seemed pleased. When he yelled "Central Park, middle fingers in the air!" we happily obeyed.
Rahzel, the beatbox from The Roots, is also in the band, and performed an incredible solo interlude. He introduced himself, for all the people who only knew him as "a black guy in a white suit", then performed a scratched-up version of Busta Rhymes' "Touch It" using only his mouth and a mic. It was the coolest part of the night.
The band's, or supergroup's, DJ is Danny Elfman-loving turntablist Mike Relm.
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