Weird Live Review: Lesile and The LYs

Leslie Hall at The Satellite, Los Angeles

I was still a good two blocks away from The Satellite, where I would be attending the camp-pop explosion that is Leslie Hall and her band Leslie & The LYs, when I spotted my first pair of gold spandex booty shorts. It was the first clue that a.) this show was going to be a people-watching bonanza and b.) I had clearly under-dressed for the occasion.

I needn’t have worried about the second part, though. The whole message of Leslie Hall’s goofy, celebratory music is that we’re all fabulous, no matter what size our asses are or what we chose to clad them in when we left the house. Yes, there were shiny and sparkly Leslie fans in abundance inside The Satellite—but some of us were just shiny and sparkly on the inside.

But the outwardly sparkly ones were more fun to photograph

The show began with a knowingly awkward, low-budget video about Leslie and her sidekicks time-traveling into the future on a quest to obtain the Golden Beats. (No, I’m not telling whether or not they succeeded—no spoilers! You’ll just have to go to the show and see for yourself.) Then Leslie emerged, resplendent in gold and macrame, and launched into “Blame the Booty,” the first of several songs about her “lower regions,” as she delicately put it.

Nothing else about Leslie Hall is the least bit delicate, which is what makes her so awesome. She’s a big, loud Midwestern gal, with a personality at least 10 times larger than her dress size. During and between songs, she worked the crowd with banter that would put any stand-up comedian to shame, over-sharing about everything from her flat ass (“If you bring a pillow to a three-hour movie, I feel you”) to her crafting addiction (“When you need to rent one of those storage units and you’re still in your twenties…”).

Her stage set was, as she put it, “Vegas-style production at Midwest prices.” It started out just looking like some stage flats draped in gold fabric. Then her backup singers rotated the whole thing sideways to reveal a bedazzled Leslie visage, which then split in two to reveal her whole band. The effect was pretty delightful considering the whole thing probably fits in one of those little U-Haul trailers.

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The drums weren’t mic’ed and the keyboards weren’t plugged in. Did it matter? Hell no.

Leslie & the LYs are touring in support of Songs in the Key of Gold, a dance remix collection of Leslie’s greatest hits. (Remember how fantastic it was when that used to be a thing? I still have the Billy Idol dance remix collection on cassette somewhere and I stand by that purchase 100%.) This was good news for us because it meant that Les was there to play the hits and play them for maximum danceosity. Although I suspect that’s pretty much what she does on all her tours.

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Getting a wardrobe assist from the LYs. She's like James Brown!
Getting a wardrobe assist from the LYs. She’s like James Brown!

The only real break in the action came when Leslie invited several fans up on stage for a little gem sweater fashion show. The girl who won—who did indeed have a pretty spectacular sweater—was so excited I thought she might start shrieking like a nine-year-old at a One Direction concert. But she managed to hold it together enough to dance along to “Craft Talk,” the best-known of Leslie Hall’s many musical paeans to the art of bedazzling.

This guy didn't win, but the back of his sweater did say, "Shazam, I'm glamorous!" So in a way, he's always winning.
This guy didn’t win, but the back of his sweater did say, “Shazam, I’m glamorous!” So in a way, he’s always winning.

Other highlights:

There was a tribute to Leslie’s cat Shania, “#1 Cat in America,” which was also an excuse for her to have audience members pass up their cell phones to share their cat pictures. (I immediately regretted that I switched wallpapers awhile back and no longer had this to share.) That number also featured a set of giant cardboard cat legs that rose up behind the stage while someone pretending to be Shania squeaked into an offstage microphone: “Hi, Mom! I hid inside your luggage!”

In lieu of a conventional encore (“We don’t have any more songs,” Leslie said apologetically. “Besides, it’s Monday. Don’t you all have lives? Jobs?”), she and the LYs led the crowd in a little impromptu post-show dance party. “This is the dance started it all!” she declared over Britney Spears’ “Toxic,” busting out a move she called “scooping the driveway.”

At the very end of the show, her minions rotated the backdrop again to reveal a toll free phone number. “I do check my messages,” she assured the crowd, before heading backstage to soak her feet and have some pizza: “I need to float these feminine ankles in the old Epsom bath.”

Go ahead, call her!
Go ahead, call her!

The song that maybe best epitomizes the Leslie Hall mojo was her finale: “Shazam I’m Glamorous”: a call-and-response anthem in which Leslie entreats her fans to tell her she’s glamorous—and of course they do, fervently. And every time they do, her face scrunches up with delight and she squeals “Thank you!” with complete sincerity. The positive feedback loop between Leslie Hall and her fans is a beautiful thing to behold. I think we all left the show feeling a bit more glamorous—even those of us who were only sparkly on the inside.

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Leslie Hall is back with new remixes and the greatest tour of 2014. Suck it, Gaga.

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Time to get those gold pants dry-cleaned and spit-shined, weirdos. After way too long of a silence (OK, only since 2011, but we’re impatient), gem-sweater dance-pop queen Leslie Hall is coming back with a brand-new album of remixes and a 2014 tour. Can an album of remixes be brand-new? It can when Leslie’s doing it. She’s a rule breaker like that.

No word yet on the title of Leslie’s remix album, but we can tell you it’s due out this December and features new takes on Leslie & the LY’s classics by “Mash-Up Mad Man” Titus Jones. She’s following up its release with what is sure to be the most bedazzled national tour of early 2014. Lady Gaga and Katy Perry may as well just wave the white flag now.

Full tour dates after this delightful clip for Jones’ booty-shaking remix of “No Pants Policy.” We are blogging pantsless in its honor. Actually, we blog pantsless most of the time, but you probably could’ve guessed that.

Leslie and the LY’s 2014 tour dates:

1/12 San Francisco, CA – Rickshaw Stop
2/5 Kansas City, MO – The Riot Room
2/6 St Louis, MO – Plush Saint Louis
2/7 Chicago, IL – The Empty Bottle
2/8 Grand Rapids, MI – The Pyramid Scheme
2/9 Madison, WI – High Noon Saloon
2/10 Pontiac, MI – The Crofoot (The Pike Room)
2/11 Columbus, OH – TBA
2/13 Cambridge, MA – Middle East Restaurant and Nightclub
2/14 Providence, RI – AS220
2/15 Brooklyn, NY – Knitting Factory Brooklyn
2/16 Philadelphia, PA – Johnny Brenda’s
2/17 Washington, DC – DC9 Nightclub
2/19 Chapel Hill, NC – Local 506
2/20 Charlotte, NC – TBA
2/21 Atlanta, GA – The EARL
2/22 Birmingham, AL – Bottletree Cafe
2/23 Nashville, TN – 12th & Porter
2/24 New Orleans, LA – TBA
2/25 Houston, TX – Fitzgerald’s Houston
2/26 Dallas, TX – Club Dada
2/27 Austin, TX – Red 7
3/1 Tucson, AZ- club congress
3/2 Las Vegas, NV – TBA
3/3 San Diego, CA – Soda Bar
3/4 Los Angeles, CA – The Satellite
3/7 Seattle, WA – The Vera Project
3/8 Portland, OR – Branx Blow Pony
3/10 Salt Lake City, UT – Urban Lounge
3/12 Denver, CO – Hi-Dive Denver
3/13 Omaha, NE – The Waiting Room Lounge
3/14 Minneapolis, MN – Triple Rock Social Club
3/15 Des Moines, IA – Wooly’s
3/21 Iowa City, IA – Blue Moose Tap House

Leslie Hall (Leslie and the LY’s)

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I’m not gonna lie: When Jake and I first started this blog, it was a full-on sausage party. For about the first year or so, I think pretty much the only female presence on the entire site was Miss Pussycat. But chicks like weirdin’ it up as much the boys do, and we’re finally taking baby steps towards some semblance of equal gender time with recent Weirdos of the Week like Petunia-Liebling MacPumpkin and Miss Von Trapp. Sorry it took us awhile, ladies.

We’re continuing our female-friendly trend this week with the long-overdue addition of Iowa’s craziest product this side of the hot beef sundae: Leslie Hall, the queen of bejeweled sweaters, gold spandex jumpsuits, high-STER-ical dance videos and geeky electro/hip-hop party jams as sleek and stylin’ as the aforementioned gold spandex jumpsuits.

Hall became a minor Internet celebrity not, at first, with her music, but with her sweater collection: an online “Gem Sweater Museum” that went viral back around the time people started saying things like “go viral.” In an NPR interview, she later claimed that the music began as a side project to pay off her bandwidth overage charges: “I’ll put out a hip-hop album, sell CDs, get rich and famous, and this bill will go away.” Her first album, released in 2005, was called Gold Pants because, according to another interview, “65% of the comments on my [Gem Sweater Museum website] were about my gold pants.”

Amazingly, working with just GarageBand and, as far as we’ve been able to learn, no real musical training (she actually has a fine art background), Hall has since pumped out five albums’ worth of cheeky, increasingly polished dance pop, over which she raps and/or sings about dancing, her sweaters, crafting, her pants, dancing, and how awesome she is. And, one time, killing zombies. But mostly about dancing.

With her chunky glasses and chunkier physique, Hall is like the anti-Katy Perry—a shiny gold beacon of the uncool-as-cool, a reminder to us all that no matter what you look like, all it takes to be fabulous is the right attitude and maybe a good dance move or two. And a gem-covered sweater never hurts, either.

P.S. A big ol’ sloppy thank-you to reader Susan Molnar for recently introducing us to the wonders of Leslie Hall, which we had somehow managed to miss previously. Clearly, we need to get out more. Or maybe we need to get out less—and spend more time on YouTube.

P.P.S. Banner photo of Leslie and her white tiger sidekicks by Kai Chan, lifted from this article.

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