The Pretty Reckless - Culture Room - April 24 | County Grind | South Florida | Broward Palm Beach New Times | The Leading Independent News Source in Broward-Palm Beach, Florida


The Pretty Reckless - Culture Room - April 24

Better than: Staying home and watching Gossip Girl reruns.

In a world where pop stars and dubstep DJs reign king (and queen), Taylor Momsen is without a doubt going against the typical formula for "making it big." Some may argue that it's a gimmick and that she's just another angsty teenager. But even without the raccoon eye makeup and "I Fuck for Satan" shirts, the talent exists within her, and there is potential for sustainability. Whether or not you're a fan, it's safe to say that Taylor Momsen is at home on stage rather than in on our television sets. And last night's show at the Culture Room proved just that. (Read our interview with Taylor Momsen here.)

After an extremely long break between sets -- 45 minutes, to be exact -- and a slew of crowd attempts at chanting the singer's name, the room went black and the voice of Orson Welles filled the room. Following the creepy yet fitting War of the Worlds broadcast, the bleached-blond singer in her signature goth-goes-stripper look appeared out of the darkness, greeted by ear-piercing screams. Wasting no time, the band went right into the highly controversial single "Hit Me Like a Man."

Taylor's vocals are gritty and rough, channeling the likes of Shirley Manson, Joan Jett, and Courtney Love -- who she is often compared to. And if it were the '90s, Taylor Momsen might have been a household name among the other female rock vocalists. However, it's 2012, and with the existence of Avril Lavigne, Momsen is going to have to work extra hard to prove she's not just another fleeting Hot Topic tween.

Seamlessly moving through such hits as "Zombie," "Just Tonight," and "Miss Nothing," the provocative frontwoman writhed around onstage, swerving her body like a cobra. Whipping her blond locks around like Axl Rose and Vince Neil, Momsen's stage presence is anything but robotic. At times, Momsen appeared to be in her own world, as though she were a puppet to the strings of her emotionally fueled lyrics. The Pretty Reckless live show is definitely all about Taylor, visually. However, what her two male counterparts -- guitarist Ben Phillips and bassist Mark Damon -- lack in stage presence is made up for by the musical force that flows out of them. The crowd hung on every word that the surprisingly chatty singer spewed at them between songs, often encouraging them to participate. And that they did, lyric for lyric, rarely missing a beat.

"We have a special treat for you, Fort Lauderdale. We heard you were fucking crazy. So, let's get crazy." Momsen growled. "Where are all the sexy ladies? I've got some special ladies for you."

The band kicked into the highly talked about track "Going Down" -- a song that basically alludes to a female going down on a priest after murdering an ex. Within moments, three scantily clad ladies appeared onstage. Although one girl was appropriately costumed in fetish gear, the other two were stripped down to bras and jeans, looking like they just stepped off "the corner." As the trio danced around onstage -- a bit awkwardly at times -- the temptress of a singer occasionally rubbed her body against them. Shockingly, nobody ended up topless.

Despite the media's often negative portrayal of her, Momsen is not just another actress trying to be a musician. She's nowhere nearly as bratty or train-wrecking as the paparazzi makes her out to be. In fact, a caption under a photograph from last night's show described her as "struggling to stand on stage." Were they at the same show I was? At no point did the singer have any performance issues. In fact, some might say the band's set can come off as a little bit too rehearsed. But we have to wonder if that's due to the swarms of paparazzi waiting patiently in the crowd for something to go awry.

Clocking in at just under a hour, the Pretty Reckless moved through its entire discography, leaving out maybe one or two tracks from its debut album, Light Me Up. During such fan favorites as "My Medicine" and "Make Me Wanna Die," Momsen stepped away from the microphone, bathing in the massive crowd sing-alongs. The up-and-coming rock goddess has a way of commanding the room's attention, and all eyes were on her during last night's sexually charged performance.

Critic's Notebook

The crowd: Sixteen- to 18-year-old Taylor Momsen look-alikes, gothy chicks, guys who were too old to be gawking and drooling over the singer.

Personal bias: I interviewed Taylor last week, and she was an absolute sweetheart.

Pet peeve: Concertgoers need to learn to enjoy the concert instead of obsessively taking cell phone photos and video. See link. At one point, Taylor even told the crowd to "put your fucking cameras and phones away."

Pet peeve number two: Making a crowd wait 30-plus minutes between sets is just obnoxious.

Set List
Hit Me Like a Man
Since You're Gone
Miss Nothing
Just Tonight
Going Down
Cold Blooded
My Medicine
Make Me Wanna Die
Factory Girl

Nothing Left to Lose

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Betsey Denberg

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