Saturday, March 17
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Saturday, March 17 El Corazon
The Pretty Reckless
Saturday, March 17
Rock stars want to be actors and actors want to be rock stars, it's one of the basic laws of the universe. And while certain celebs have been able to bridge the gap between pop music and acting (hello, Justin Timberlake), making the shift between acting and the rock world is a trickier dance since rock fans want a bit of that elusive credibility from their rock stars. Bon Jovi managed some success as an actor and Jared Leto a bit as a rocker, but the only rock star in recent memory to earn an Oscar is Trent Reznor, and that was for making music and not pretending to be someone else. Crossover attempts by actors into the rock world generally go the way of 30 Odd Foot of Grunts and not 30 Seconds to Mars, which brings us to The Pretty Reckless, a New York hard rock band fronted by former Gossip Girl star Taylor Momsen, who headlined El Corazon on Saturday night to an all-ages crowd of curious onlookers.
The band have been doing their best to earn cred the old fashioned way: By slogging it out on the road playing small rooms like El Corazon, converting fans city by city. They've coupled this approach by playing festivals and higher profile supporting gigs, like the stint they'll do opening for Marilyn Manson in April, and it seems to be paying off. Momsen has cultivated a slithery stage persona, like a younger, tamer Scott Wieland, which her sultry rasp compliments nicely. Dressed in a couture black T-shirt with a see-through back, short leather shorts and ripped stockings, the 18-year-old oozed sex on stage, pole dancing with her mike stand, lifting up her shirt and getting down on all fours to be in the faces of the front row, who snapped cellphone pics like paparazzi on the red carpet. The rest of The Pretty Reckless did an able job backing their singer, but they ultimately proved unmemorable, which probably isn't a bad thing given that Momsen is the centerpiece.
The Pretty Reckless' catchy, commercial hard rock, which is slick and young, a la Avril or Kelly Clarkson, cruised along at a nice pace on Saturday, with brief blasts of standard-issue patter in between. "You guys are fucking quiet, Seattle," Momsen said after the first few songs. "It's time to wake the fuck up!" With only a single full-length and a pair of EPs under their belt, the band played a short set, which was only a dozen songs long, and which also included "Seven Nation Army" from The White Stripes. But it's always better to leave a crowd wanting more than overstaying your welcome. Perhaps the short set also accounted for why the band kept the crowd waiting for an hour before taking the stage after the opening acts concluded.
For a young singer, Momsen did well fronting the band, but her performance was a bit one-note, and it would have been nice to have seen a few more emotions or a bit of Momsen's personality emerge. She has the rock singer routine down pat, but every line uttered was rock & roll 101. There was no insight into the songs, no personal anecdotes, no witty repartee. The band seemed eager to play their dozen songs and get off the stage, offering the crowd the bare minimum of what would be acceptable for the $18 ticket price (or $40 if you count the meet-and-greet option). The good news is the band proved that they don't have anything left to prove and with more experience and more material under their belt they just might make Momsen as famous a singer as she was an actor.
Overheard at the show: "She was born in 1993?," someone behind me said to his date in regards to Momsen's age. "I remember 1993. Really well."
Personal bias: The opening bands had to set up in front of the gear from The Pretty Reckless, which is pretty standard for multi-band bills on a big stage, but on a stage the size of El Corazon's, it meant the opening bands' drummers had to set up off to one side, making the already small stage even smaller and which emasculated each act more than was necessary.