So, people, Chris and I went to see the Katy Perry extravaganza last night at Madison Square Garden. Our old friend, former Scientist Max Hart, is now her touring keyboardist, you see, and so our attendance at the show was just a demonstration of friendly solidarity. That’s all. We love Max. We went to cheer for him, not to leer at Katy Perry. Definitely not to leer, no.
The whole thing was a bit last-minute and entirely up in the air: guest list spots for the Katy Perry Show are, understandably, at a premium, especially in New York City, a town positively brimming with high-visibilty Perry fans like Edward Burns and Anna Wintour and Mike Bloomberg, who are apt to use their celebrity and political muscle to snap up all available tickets.
So, at 8:15 pm Chris and I were at Huckleberry Bar in Williamsburg, expecting to be shut out, crying into our high-end cocktails. We were ready to call the night – hell, to call our very lives – a total wash. That’s when the text came. We were in! Cut to the desperate pounding of our precious beverages (mine, a rye/absinthe concoction, and Chris’, a weird-sounding but well-received chai/whisky thing) in the interest of making haste to MSG. One feels very safe assuming that we were the only of the 14,000 Perry fans in attendance last night to preface the show with a pair of superior tipples.
By the time we arrived at the venue, it was several minutes after show-time, and the lobby was peppered with a few stragglers. By and large, these were desperate ticketless bastards, who impeded our progress at the will call window with their blubbering and fuming over the attendants’ unwillingness to hand over tickets that, clearly, their contacts had failed to arrange for pickup. Having secured our iron-clad tickets through the ever-reliable Max, we had little empathy for these wretches, especially since their endemic unwillingness to accept defeat caused us to miss at least a few of the opening numbers. I relished imagining the fees they’d have to pay the thuggish touts outside, or, failing scalping, the degenerate sexual exchanges they must have negotiated.
Golden tickets in hand, Cain and I scrambled to our seats, which we we were surprised to find occupied by a gaggle of girls in their early teens. We let them keep our seats and took a couple of empty spots next to them, which seemed like a good, generous move until the gang of nasty hags started metastasizing and flooding our row and shrewishly bitching every time Chris or I had to wriggle in front of them to go get more beers, which, admittedly, we needed to do very frequently.
But, people, the show was great. It was simply great. It had everything: tremendous set design, extravagant costumes, boobs, phenomenal dancers, boobs, a couple of acrobats, and Katy Perry’s boobs. It also featured, as a framing device for the evening, a video backstory, which was admittedly pretty inscrutable, since we’d missed the beginning of the show. It centered around Perry’s search for her cartoon cat (?) through an Oz-like candyland, and it was batshit crazy. At one point, the floating, disembodied-but-still-very-much-alive head of some bald pederast appeared and seemed to be threatening her, while pharmaceuticals orbited around it. When video-Perry finally found the cat, she learned that it had intentionally led her [spoiler alert] to a blue wig, which was on display in the middle of fucking nowhere. This development seemed to delight Perry, but I’ll tell you what: if I had chased a cat around some nightmarish candy-riddled hellhole for hours and battled antagonistic severed heads and other shit I’m currently forgetting, only to find out that the cat just wanted me to experiment with some new hairstyles, I would positively thrash that damned animal, forfeiture of future “PETA’s Sexiest Vegetarian” competitions be damned.
Another unexpected thing about the show was that it demonstrated a fairly heartrending rift between Perry’s personal sensibilities and her audience’s collective maturity level. The whole production was ribald as hell, which is fine for a couple of salty old dogs like Chris and I, but, no shit, people – a good 70% of the audience seemed to be pre-pubescent girls, with a large portion of the remaining crowd composed of their fathers. Most of the dads, let’s be honest, didn’t exactly appear to be complaining.
The father sitting in front of me demonstrated far more enthusiasm for the show than did his five-year-old daughter, but I’m guessing that’s because she didn’t catch the connotations when Perry, while singing a song dressed as a Peacock (Lyrics: “I wanna see your peacock, cock, cock”, which, I’ll tell you what, if a woman ever referred to my dick as a “pea cock,” I can pretty goddamn well guarantee that I would not respond by showing it to her), but, so, anyway, while she sang these lyrics, she held her microphone perpendicular to her mouth and she bobbed her head back and forth, ostensibly maybe mimicking the nod of a peacock’s head as it walks, but, really, it just looked like she and her dancers were orgiastically fellating the hell out of some microphones.
Or maybe the seven-year-old girl to my right didn’t catch it when Perry kissed a guy from the audience on the cheek and then salaciously reported to the crowd that one thing she likes about American guys is “that they give back.” Or maybe the kid just thought that Perry’s spandex leotard was itchy when she (Perry, not the little girl, you asshole) rubbed her crotch as she sang, “We kiss, we make out” during “Hot and Cold.” Or maybe the children just weren’t semiotically savvy enough to digest the symbolism in video projections of cartoon bottles of champagne blowing their loads in the final, climactic number. Or maybe they just thought it was cool to be doused in the foam that spurted from a decidedly phallic candy-cane squirt-gun as Perry stroked it, suggestively. Maybe these nine-year-olds misunderstood Perry’s question when they squealed (in a disturbingly high pitch) in response to her wondering aloud, “Who’s feeling sexy, tonight?” Referring to the two almost impossibly cherubic kids who danced in the row behind us during one particularly lurid number, Chris worried, “I sure hope they didn’t see the lascivious tonguing of that dancer’s asshole.”
But, you know what? The kids loved it, even if they were too stupid to catch all of the great sex junk. At one point, as I was looking down at my phone, writing a gloating text to an absent friend, a section of the crowd let out a huge cheer. “Why’d they scream? What’d she do?” I asked Chris.
“She pointed herself in their direction,” he said.
So, yeah: Perry’s got panache to spare, and she’s got a handful of totally badass songs, and her band is fantastic, and Max Hart gets a couple of really top-notch keyboard solos, and the whole thing is just generally very joyous and over-the-top and must cost a goddamned arm and a leg to produce, but it’s worth every penny of the expense. Look, if you see only one show this year (and it won’t be a We Are Scientists show, since we’re gonna be writing the next record for the next couple of months), make it Katy Perry’s Porno Fuckfest, or whatever it’s called.