A $10 Prince Concert - October 24, 2015

Inside one of the final surprise full sets by the purple legend at Paisley Park

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Judith Hill, the acclaimed backup vocalist featured on TV's "The Voice," the Michael Jackson concert film "This Is It," and the Academy Award-winning documentary "20 Feet from Stardom," had just released her Prince-assisted debut album "Back in Time." Prince was throwing an impromptu album release party at his own Paisley Park compound in Chanhassen, MN. Unlike most of his previous pop-up Paisley parties, Prince took to Twitter ahead of time to confirm that he would be taking the stage as co-headliner. The kicker? Only a $10 cover charge to get in. Coming from the man who sometimes had intimate shows that started at $300 to get in, that was one big kicker. There was no way my friend Peter and I were going to miss this.

Prince tweeted me back, revealing that doors were opening at 10pm that night. 

Prince tweeted me back, revealing that doors were opening at 10pm that night. 

Only a legend like Prince could get people from across the globe to drop everything and fly to Minnesota for a last minute show, but that's what they did. Less than 12 hours after Prince's tweet went out, they pulled up in their airport taxis and rental cars, and queued up outside with the rest of us in a sort of degrading, very strict and cold outdoor line across the street from the chainlink gates of the Paisley parking lot. Today, it's safe to assume that not a single one of us, regardless of our country of residence, can possibly regret that spending that $10 to get in.

For all intents and purposes, it was a Prince show. I recall Judith Hill performing a couple of her album tracks, but mostly she was on the side of the stage watching Prince and his band, like the rest of us. It wasn't a continuous two-hour Prince set. Hello, it was a $10 show. The Purple One rightfully milked us for all we were worth energy-wise, constantly teasing us by leaving the stage after playing as little as one song... with hour-long breaks in between.

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Full Setlist:

As Trains Go By - Judith Hill

Cry Cry Cry - Judith Hill cover)

All the Critics Love U in New York (Performed as All The Critics Love U in Minneapolis) - Prince

A Love Bizarre (Sheila E. cover) - Prince

The Glamorous Life (Sheila E. cover) - Prince

Stratus (Billy Cobham cover) - Prince

My People - Judith Hill

Use Me (Bill Withers cover) - Prince

Million $ Show - Prince & Judith Hill duet

Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin) [Sly & The Family Stone cover] - Prince

Alphabet St. - Prince

Sign “☮” the Times - Prince

777-9311 (The Time cover) - Prince

Hot Thing - Prince

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This night was before the general public knew Prince was living full-time inside the Paisley Park compound. What a warm feeling it was when I finally found out that Peter and I had experienced some wonderful nights jamming, merch-shopping and spectating inside of Prince's private residence.

The cherry on top of our final Paisley adventure came when Prince strolled by the bench we were sitting on. Peter, at a loss for words, simply greets the Artist. "Oh hi, Prince," he says.

Prince's reply? "Hi," with that iconic, sexy wink.

 

Final Thoughts: Unplugged

I have strong memories of all my visits to Paisley Park, not because of snaps or status updates, but because I was in the moment every second I was there. No phones were allowed. Anyone seen with an electronic device would be escorted off the premises and banned forever.

Because of that, the time I spent at Paisley Park was likely the closest I'll ever get to living in the 1980s. I'm not saying Prince lived in the past in recent years - on the contrary, he was actually still the most forward-thinking musician alive - but the no-phones rule ensured we actually met new friends, danced, and most importantly, focused on the music.

Time passed so slowly, but it was actually kind of amazing. Peter and I repeatedly visited the lone clock in the second performance hall, which was high up and shrouded in darkness. There were times where a minute felt like 10 to me. Unplugging feels good. It's all but guaranteed that one day soon we as a culture will seek similarly unplugged experiences like Prince's old parties at Paisley Park.

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Review: Trinity Taylor's Love for the Art Tour in Minneapolis

The season 9 stunner and All Stars 4 frontrunner held the Flip Phone-presented competition at The Pourhouse

Photo: DerekPlease.com

Photo: DerekPlease.com

Trinity the Tuck emerged on The Pourhouse stage with an energetic lip-sync performance of the hypnotic, dark pop Kim Petras bop “Turn Off the Light (feat. Elvira).” Her tight lip sync, gorgeous ruffled outfit and energetic strutting got the night off to a fun start. 

She then threw herself into full-on MC mode, introducing the concept of her Love for the Art Tour, a nationwide series of drag competitions starring local queens. Minneapolis was the sixth tour stop so far, and as the night went on, she declared it the tightest competition yet. 

Photo: DerekPlease.com

Photo: DerekPlease.com

The talented Trinity MCed the competition with self-effacing humor, like telling the audience she would weigh 100 pounds if it weren’t for the “85 pounds of silicon” in her body. The first round was a look presentation, with each of the contestants showcasing a gag-worthy drag couture. The audience took the competition seriously, too, as I noticed a few people with paper and pen keeping track of their favorites.

  • Carińo came out in a blush-colored belted gown, and vamped along to a monologue about drag that transitioned into a Spanish-language pop song.

  • Allota Shots brought everyone back to the 90s wearing by their best Magic School Bus drag (literally, they stepped out of a bus they was wearing around their hips). From planets on their head, to makeup and hair inspired by Miss Frizzle, and a galaxy-pattern dress, the look was out of this world. Their look presentation was soundtracked to the show’s theme song, too. Trinity the Tuck said, “If drag doesn’t work out for you, you’ll be an arts and crafts genius, bitch!”

  • Giselle Ovarmé showcased an iridescent, crystallized costume with a silhouette reminiscent of The Fame Monster-era Lady Gaga. A haunting atmospheric track played in the background. Trinity thought Giselle looked like a mermaid.

  • Drag queen and king Meshika Shadows first appeared in a pink glitter gown with a long, flowing white train. The train was so big someone had to help them walk it down the stairs. They showcased the sparkling, flowing beauty of the piece while P!nk’s “What About Us” played.

  • The statuesque Laydee Swallowz donned a slim-fitting, glittery, star-covered dress with a matching headpiece. It was accentuated with dark aquamarine drapes hanging off their arms. Old Hollywood music hung in the background. They went above and beyond by getting on a microphone to describe their look as “glamour and Lisa Frank.”

  • Victoria Boom Boom Gotti rocked a stunning curled wig, which was perhaps the best hair of the night. Their black glittered dress caught the eye of many fans, and they received some of the most generous tips of the night. The chill R&B song “Queen” by Jessie J was a sensual backing track to their presentation.

  • Ty Torres wore a large feathered piece around their shoulders, and a matching feathered headpiece. The shoulder piece came off in two, as handheld fans they waved around for the audience. Trinity the Tuck was impressed, shouting, “Come on full production, let’s get sickening!” 

  • Local favorite Martina Marraccino of Queer Circus wore an ornate green dress with plants coming from it. It contrasted beautifully against their bright red gloves and stilettos. Their silver headpiece sparkled, and had plant life bursting out the top. Trinity joked about being “hypnotized” by this performer in the dressing room. “Don’t ‘dickmatize’ me, bitch!”

  • The gorgeous Moéh stood tall in a pink dress with a squiggle design, a black belt and black shoulder pads. Their blonde-with-dark-roots wig recalled Madonna’s Hard Candy era hair looks.

  • Rosie Bottoms wowed the crowd wearing a red wig, and a floral print dress with a large bird puppet coming out the front. The puppet was hand-operated, and created the illusion that they were riding on its back. This was achieved by Rosie wearing long stilts on their legs, covered with bird leg-patterned material.

  • Priscilla Yuicy did their best runway walk onto the stage, soundtracked to Rihanna’s “Phresh Off the Runway.” They rocked a large updo, a green felt jacket, and long silver boots. The coat came off to reveal a silver, chain mail-inspired dress. The music transitioned into an audio recording of Samirah Raheem’s epic anti-slut shaming conversation with Jesse Peterson, which has gone viral. 

Round two was the performance category, which included lip synced performances and even some live instrumentation. DJ Izzie P kept things moving with minimal downtime between performers’ tracks.

  • The bouncy Carińo broke it down to a Spanish-Language dance track. Their intricate arm choreography and death drop were so good, Trinity asked them to teach the audience how to pronounce their name so they wouldn’t mess it up.

  • Allota Shots came out dressed like Mary Poppins, umbrella and all. They performed along to a dubstep mega mix of songs from the classic Disney flick. Shots even spiced Poppins up by taking off their overcoat to reveal a slinky bodysuit underneath. The performance inspired Trinity the Tuck to troll the crowd, saying, “If you can spell ‘supercalifragilisticexpialidocious,’ I’ll give you $500… and if you believe me, I’m lying!” 

  • Double entendre queen Giselle Ovarmé straddled a venue staircase as they entered wearing large, holographic angel wings and a shiny costume. The iridescent outfit played well in the stage lights, soundtracked to a lip-sync of “The Cold” by Exitmusic. During the final chorus, the angel wings were revealed to be rigged with dazzling LED lights.

  • Meshika Shadows slayed in a green, glittery kimono-shaped dress. They showed off their lip-sync skills to P!nk’s cover of “A Million Dreams” from the film The Greatest Showman, before a high energy transition into Katy Perry’s “Part of Me,” including several many cartwheels back and forth across the stage. Trinity was impressed by the full costume change Shadows did between the two songs. 

  • Laydee Swallowz donned a short, white 1920s flapper dress. Their lip-sync was to Miss Shirley Bassey’s legendary vocal recording of “History Repeating.” She had a classy updo with gems in it. They had several layers which came off, including a chest piece that revealed a pink triangle, and a back piece that revealed the word “RESIST.” They ended the performance with a fist of power. Trinity the Tuck complemented their Bob Fosse-inspired moves. 

  • Victoria Boom Boom Gotti came correct with a remix of Kesha’s “Woman." Gotti led the crowd in a clap-along as they yanked off a smock that revealed a black body suit underneath, complete with revealing cutouts. Their high energy choreo stunned the audience, as did their death drop into a rain of cash. Trinity was also shook, stating “I wouldn’t wanna lip sync against her.”

  • Ty Torres came back to deliver an amazing performance of “Devil Went Down to Georgia” by Charlie Daniels. Torres’ denim cowboy look with human and devil makeup on either side of their face perfectly fit the song’s lyrics. Torres did not have a fiddle like the song references, saxophone, which they played live. “That’s a talent,” Trinity declared. 

  • Martina Marraccino returned to the mic for an impressive live vocal performance of “A Million Reasons” by Lady Gaga. Their singing showed restraint, was on pitch, and sounded great alongside a live-sounding acoustic guitar recording. Their yellow and black cow-print smock was hilarious and went with the country sound of the track. Their vibrato was gorgeous, and a fellow audience member agreed with me. Trinity couldn’t resist referencing her All Stars 4 sister Monique Heart by saying, “Yes, yellow cow stunning!” 

  • Moéh lip-synced Florence and the Machine’s 2018 cover of the classic song “Stand by Me.” The stage lights accentuated Moéh’s gorgeous white wig and pink and silver gown. 

  • Rosie Bottoms came for blood with a high-energy performance of “Scheiße” by Lady Gaga. Wearing an aquamarine, see-through lace jumpsuit and white slouchy boots, Bottoms brought the house down with big choreography. This included a death drop which went into high-octane floor choreography. An astounded Trinity said, “I’m out of breath just watching her. I need to go to the emergency room!”

  • Priscilla Yuicy also brought the heat with the Ciara song “Got Me Good”; cool timing, because Ciara was a guest judge on that night’s episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars 4. Their red glitter cape come off to reveal an orange dress with a black lace back. In a twist of events, that dress also came off, unveiling a jeweled red bodysuit. Like Bottoms before them, Juicy dropped to the floor to do intricate floorwork. Yuicy's dancing here was some of the fiercest of the night. 

After Bottoms and Yuicy almost literally brought The Pourhouse down with their savage, high-energy performances, Trinity the Tuck welcomed all the contestants back to the stage. She delivered a powerful speech about how much the night and the tour at large meant to her, before asking the crowd to vote for their favorite performers by cheering the loudest for their pick. 

Photo: DerekPlease.com

Photo: DerekPlease.com

Photo: DerekPlease.com

Photo: DerekPlease.com

One by one, contestants were lovingly eliminated and thanked for their work. Lots of standouts left the stage, before it was down to Rosie Bottoms and Priscilla Yuicy. Bottoms won by a small crowd noise margin, so Trinity declared Yuicy would also advance to the national round of the Love of the Art Tour competition. For their slayage, Bottoms won $500 and Yuicy snatched $100. Trinity thanked the Minneapolis crowd, which was audibly delighted to have two representatives going to Los Angeles. 

Photo: DerekPlease.com

Photo: DerekPlease.com


Who’s your favorite drag queen, local to you? Tag them in a tweet to me! @DerekPlease

Review: Golden Globe-Nominated “The Favourite” Is Already an Awards Season Favorite

Director Yorgos Lanthimos is back with another unique film 

Fox Searchlight

Fox Searchlight

On the surface, The Favourite might seem like yet another British royalist period piece in the era of Downton Abbey and The Crown. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Favourite has bite — sometimes literally — and a wicked sense of humor. Its lesbian and bisexual storylines are given depth, complexity and central attention. The plot is gripping, and the ending surprising. 

Fox Searchlight

Fox Searchlight

Emma Stone plays a disgraced Lady, working hard as a maid for the aging Anne, Queen of Great Britain (played by an exquisite Olivia Colman) to regain her noble status after her husband sold her off. For an American actress, her British accent does not feel forced or false. Opposite Rachel Weisz’s Sarah Churchill, Duchess of Marlborough, Stone does career-best work battling for the lustful Anne’s attention. Weisz gives the film the heft and weight it needs to feel grounded in the time period, while also giving us some GIF-worthy quips. 

This is no surprise if you have seen one of director Yorgos Lanthimos’ films. His 2015 work The Lobster established him as an awards-worthy auteur with a penchant for the irregular. I mean, the plot of The Lobster found actor Colin Farrell forced to couple up by a deadline, or else he would turn into a lobster. Last year’s The Killing of a Sacred Deer starring Farrell and Nicole Kidman also had a purposefully off tone. Its provocative dialog was delivered a clinical, dry tone by stone-faced actors. 

While The Favourite certainly contains irregular moments and provocative dialog, it is different from Lobster and Deer in that it feels a bit more palatable for mainstream audiences. Judging by the reaction of the sold out audience, all the jokes land and all the twists tantalize. It could be one of the rare awards season films to be a surprise box office hit. 


Now playing in select theaters


What has been your favorite new movie of 2018? Tweet me! @DerekPlease

Review: Widows Raises the Bar for Modern Screenwriting

A spoiler-free take on the genius of collaborative storytelling.

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No writer can authentically create the heart, mind and soul of a character whose experience they cannot relate with. One can come very close, but there are nuances that get missed; “tells” that register with the audience, even subconsciously. 

That’s what makes the co-screenwriting team of writer-director Steve McQueen and writer Gillian Flynn pop in Widows. Each brings their own experiences to the table, infusing the storytelling with the authentic African-American and female perspectives missing in so many similar thriller screenplays. Gone are any distracting stereotypes, cliches, or false moments, leaving room for breathtaking storytelling that feels new and raw, but should have arrived decades ago.

Part of Viola Davis’ brilliance as lead character Veronica Rawlins is a direct result of the screenwriting collaboration between McQueen and Flynn. Underestimated, gritty and real, Rawlins joins the pantheon of flawed Flynn anti-heroines established in previous works Gone Girl, Dark Places and Sharp Objects. Unlike those characters, Rawlins is a black woman, and Flynn defers to McQueen in portraying aspects of Rawlins that a white writer could not get right. Rawlins’ reactions to events that mirror the modern reality of the black experience — from casual or blatant racism to police brutality — are rendered powerfully authentic by McQueen’s penning. 

It’s also increasingly rare to see a film in which the screenwriting is so focused, to the point that every syllable matters. Widows does not hold its audience’s hand; if you’re not paying attention, you’re left behind. Clever foreshadowing sets up subtle reveals that will be entirely missed by distracted audience members. 

Photos from Warner Bros.

Photos from Warner Bros.

In what feels like a conscious choice, Widows almost entirely avoids showcasing digital devices or their screens. It’s a huge departure from similar modern thrillers, many of which rely on digital technology for their very premise, or overlay text message conversation bubbles on screen. In the one or two times a computer screen is shown, there is as little motion as possible on screen, making a Google Map feel like a paper counterpart. When characters in Widows text, you rely on the actors’ reactions to the sent and received messages to get the gist of what’s said. 

Analog technology is peppered throughout. Grieving, Rawlins drops the needle on a vinyl record. Weapons or pyrotechnics used by the cast are analog; no cheesy digital thriller tropes. This authentic, back-to-basics feeling is refreshing in a film set in modern day. Indeed, authenticity is what gives Widows its edge and its power, and hopefully what sets it apart in the sure-to-be-competitive upcoming awards season. 

5/5 stars 

Widows opens in wide release Friday, November 16.


What is your favorite thriller? Tweet me: @DerekPlease

Review: Troye Sivan Brings The Bloom Tour to a Sold-Out State Theatre

Sivan stunned alongside well-matched opening acts Kim Petras and Carlie Hanson

Photo Credits, Left to Right: Danielle DeGrasse-Alston; Charlotte Rutherford; Naohmi Monroe

Photo Credits, Left to Right: Danielle DeGrasse-Alston; Charlotte Rutherford; Naohmi Monroe

Troye Sivan

Photo: Brackett Hardy

Photo: Brackett Hardy

After releasing the personal-yet-glossy debut album Blue Neighbourhood in late 2015, Troye Sivan and co. elaborated upon its original content for the US singles; by remixing and adding an Alessia Cara feature, “Wild” became less unique, and more radio-friendly. His no-holds-barred sophomore album Bloom pivots completely in the opposite direction, fully leaning into the personal side with little-to-no audible sense of catering to radio. As a track title suggests, it’s truly “The Good Side” of Sivan. 

Photo: Joey Diaz

Photo: Joey Diaz

His sold-out State Theatre crowd on October 17 was unanimously supportive of that artistic decision, having already memorized every single syllable of all Bloom tracks performed — despite it being less than two months after the LP’s release. That’s the kind of devoted fandom that the 23-year-old Australian singer has cultivated through genuine connection with supporters both online and in person.

Blue Neighbourhood songs were met with a mix of sweet nostalgia and fresh excitement, as surely only a portion of the State Theatre-sized crowd was able to pack into First Avenue for Sivan’s previous Minneapolis gig a few years back. Many fans were hearing their old favorites live for the first time, like “Wild,” on which one of Sivan’s fantastic female backing vocalists sang Alessia Cara’s guest verse. That trend continued in performances songs like “Heaven” and “Dance to This,” with the backing vocalists lending their talents to parts originally sang by Betty Who and Ariana Grande, respectively. 

At times The Bloom Tour felt so interactive, that in the best way it was less a show than a 360 experience. Phones were up, but unlike most concerts in 2018, people didn’t seem desperate to capture the moment. They seemed to understand the best way to capture the moment, was to actually be in it — something Troye Sivan encouraged throughout the night, rewarding individual fans in the crowd with meet and greets and kudos for birthdays and handing out flyers before the show. The crowd even interacted with the crowd, such as when friend groups separated by rows, aisles and even the balcony were seen waving and pantomiming in between and during performances.

Photo: Joachim Johnson

Photo: Joachim Johnson

The full-out dancing and excitement of the crowd during songs like “Bite” was encouraged by the artist himself, both outright in his banter in between songs, and in the Las Vegas club-like light rig on the back of the stage. Epilepsy warning signs were posted outside entrances, as the intense light show was intentionally bold, yet seriously exhilarating. 

There’s a lot of talk about how Sivan feels like familiar artists — David Bowie, Adam Lambert, Lorde — but not enough talk about how he’s unlike anyone else. Able to bring fans together, in the moment, in the otherwise disassociated times we live in. Able to ignite an entire crowd, but also single out individual fans for their contribution to his show. And perhaps it’s due to the venue not being able to handle stadium-level crowd roar, but I cannot for the life of me remember back to a concert with crowd feedback on par with The Bloom Tour. Not even at Madonna, or peak Britney.

Mere human ears cannot distinguish individual sounds when Sivan elicits peak response from fans in rapture. It’s hard to describe the sensation of your sense of hearing temporarily shorting out due to one human being in the front of room being the target of utter pandemonium. It just feels like pure love. 

Kim Petras

Photo by Charlotte Rutherford

Photo by Charlotte Rutherford

We’re in a drought. The wells of pop music have been dried up for a while now, with most well-known pop acts pivoting to other genres like country and R&B to appeal to changing tastes in the general public. Who can save us with a bubblegum pop anthem on the level of Britney Spears’ pop genre-resurrecting 1998 debut single “…Baby One More Time”?

The clear frontrunner is Kim Petras, a 26-year-old Millennial pop artist that is a perfect antidote for an otherwise pretty boring sonic landscape. Already a favorite on “Stan” Twitter — the social network’s community of rabid pop music fans — Petras has quickly proceeded to win the Twin Cities’ affection with a successful radio campaign for her most notable track, “Heart to Break.” Fittingly, she took a moment to thank local Top 40 station KDWB for playing that single more often than any other station in the United States. 

Photo by Charlotte Rutherford

Photo by Charlotte Rutherford

In “Heart to Break,” Kim Petras belts a strong pop chorus written about reckless abandon in newfound love. It’s the kind of vocally challenging chorus that relies solely on the strength of the lead singer, and just as Petras nailed it in the studio, she delivered live on stage in Minneapolis. Her sincere vocals layered perfectly over the slamming pop beat of her backing DJ/co-producer Aaron Joseph, making the infectious bop-of-a-song a perfect match for the authenticity-seeking crowd of Troye Sivan fans. 

Fans were also lit-up by performances of fresh tracks from her deservedly-lauded Halloween mixtape Turn Off the Light, Vol. 1. The ghostly crooner “Tell Me It’s a Nightmare” pulls double duty as a pop banger and somewhat of a torch ballad. Both Petras and Joseph took things to new heights, jumping up and down to beat-heavy tracks like this and “I Don’t Want It At All.” 

Though she has said, “I just hate the idea of using my identity as a tool,” Kim Petras’ identity as a transgender woman is another aspect that makes her a needed addition to current mainstream music. While the Trump administration actively moves to legislate away trans rights, Petras serves as a bubblegum pop champion for our times; showing LGBT kids and adults alike that they can succeed against adversity. The LGBT community’s support of out and proud public figures like her has become vital to our community’s freedom. 

Kim Petras ended her State Theatre set with a triumphant vocal performance of “Can’t Do Better,” a fittingly titled anthem about a lover not being able to find a replacement for her. Fans of pop music likely also can’t do better than Petras, a rare artist that mixes power pop with power vocals. 

Carlie Hanson

Photo by Naohmi Monroe

Photo by Naohmi Monroe

[Review by Jake]

Alongside her band, 18-year-old pop artist Carlie Hanson emerged on stage to thunderous applause from a crowd generally close to her age. She immediately launched into “Why Did You Lie?” — an exciting first song, full of energy that pumped up the crowd. 

Photo by Naohmi Monroe

Photo by Naohmi Monroe

Hanson announced her next song was “Toxins,” a new single that would debut on streaming platforms only two days later. She bounced across the stage while her infectious hook and her bands’ skilled playing enchanted the State Theatre. Despite the song not being out yet at the time, many in the crowd were seen bobbing their heads and dancing in their seats.

A personal touch came when Hanson interacted with the lit-up crowd, announcing that her best friends from her hometown of Blue Cross, Wisconsin were at the show. She complemented this more tender moment with a more chill, unreleased song, “Hazel,” notable for its hypnotic beat. Background lighting was used very well during this performance, starting with blue hues, then greens shifting into blaring reds in the chorus.

The effervescent Hanson invited everyone to sing along to her streaming hits, and also took care to properly introduce her band members. She proclaimed her last song — the Instagram and Drake-referencing “Us” — was “a fuck you anthem,” and asked the won-over crowd stick their middle fingers up. Lighting once again lent an artful touch to the performance, with deep and dark reds that transformed the State Theatre into a darkroom, with bright white strobe lights during the chorus for emphasis.


What’s your favorite Troye Sivan song? DM me on Instagram.