Sunday, July 28, 2013

Penguin Prison Plays in What Feels Like a Prison

Ozomatli had posed the question earlier in the evening during one of their songs: "¿Dónde está la after party?"  For me, it was a DJ set by Penguin Prison (Chris Glover) at NYC's newest nightclub, the Wall.  After catching him a month ago in Las Vegas, it was time to check one out on his home turf.  While Commonwealth was a nice escape from the glitz of the Strip, the Wall was like a place from which you couldn't escape.  Waiting to enter in a narrow black corridor with stenciled instructions (EYES UP FRONT. HANDS TO YOUR SIDES. NO SPITTING.), I heard someone say, "I feel like I'm going into a rollercoaster ride."  Once finally past the checkin podium, the venue felt a little like Sleep No More's McKittrick Hotel in that there were no directions as to where to go in the coal mine darkness.  After wandering around in an upstairs area, I made my way down to a bar, where four dim chandeliers provided the only light.  Around the corner from the bar was a dancefloor.  A DJ with a laptop was on a raised platform at the far end.   A woman in lingerie danced in a birdcage beside him.  You'd occasionally spot patrons hitting C0₂-filled balloons into the air.  That is, until they were popped on the disco ball ensconced in razor wire.  (You read that correctly.) I wasn't digging the DJ, so I waited patiently by the wall for PP.

He took over right before 1am, getting things started with his brand new remix of Hockey's "My Mind," posted just two days prior on his Soundcloud.  After his remix of "Blue Jeans," he grabbed the mic to sing "Hollywood," acting out the lyrics with his hands.  Shifting back into DJ-mode, he programmed a little Fleetwood Mac.  While he'd condensed his live vocal performances into a mini-set at Commonwealth, he interspersed them throughout the night here, continuing with new song, "Callin' Out Your Name."  After singing about his car called Jenny on "The Worse It Gets," PP announced, "Now I'm gonna do this song. This is a song about Prince."  While I'm still partial to the surprise Vegas version, his take on "I Wanna Be Your Lover" was excellent.  You could just tell he was having so much fun, coming out from behind his setup to sing unabashedly to the gyrating mass below.  That joy carried over into "You Can Call Me Al," where Glover didn't sing, but made sure to conduct the crowd on the horn hits, and save a miniature freakout for himself during that infamous bass solo.  "I hope you guys know this song," he said, dropping "Don't Fuck with My Money" on us for his final number.  It didn't reach the heights of the live version, however, with the omission of the screamed lines about "squeezing it 'til the eagle bleeds."  Penguin Prison was prepared to pass the platform to the proximate performer, but pleas from the people persisted.  "I could try one more," he said, firing off "Fair Warning" for an encore, slapping hands with those in the front as he sang.


SET (with vocals) -
Hollywood / Callin' Out Your Name* / The Worse It Gets > I Wanna Be Your Lover / Don't Fuck with My Money

Fair Warning

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