by Ben Funkhouser
photos by Valentina Saltos
A snowstorm was to blame for the re-scheduling of the Natalie Portman’s Shaved Head and Starfucker show on Saturday the 20th, so it was changed. Now, one week later, I arrived early to warm up inside the Vera Project. The doors were set to open at 7:30, but by 5 o clock, there were already 20+ people outside. I chuckled a little and scolded myself for being a snob, and walked in, much to the dismay of those standing outside. Blah blah, a few hours. Starfucker started. I had listened to this band a while back, before they had started to take off, like they’re doing now, and really liked it. They had posted three songs online for download, and those were the songs I knew. As they played through their set, each member switched instruments on almost every song. The drummer would play keyboards; the bass player would sit down at the second drum set. The guitar player had a keyboard and a turntable on a desk to his side, which occasionally played or mixed. While their set was good, I found that the original three songs were the best. This band should most definitely be seen live, as they take the beautiful pop that seems to only exist in a studio and play it note for note live. I liked this band; they were super pretty and super chill.
OMG, NPSH! I walked into the band room after Starfucker, and I was surrounded by teen and tweenage fan girls. I never thought it could be possible for any band to have such ridiculously loyal and excited fans, but by god, they exist. This is also the first show (since the time I wore my Talbot Tagora shirt to a show that they were added on last minute) that I’d ever seen anyone, much less everyone, wearing the band’s t-shirt. Overwhelmed, I sat down at the merch table, which was being run by some friends of mine. The shirts cost $15 which is kind of bullshit, but whatever, it didn’t stop anyone, seeing as they sold about a million during the five minutes I was there. Kids, adults, small children and older folks all seemed to like Natalie Portman’s Shaved Head. They bring out the youthful feelings of teenage angst and sex -- but in a kid friendly manner. This being the millionth time I’ve seen them, I’ve watched the crowds grow from nothing to this sold out and packed Vera, up to full capacity. They started their set with “The Lustful Malibu Highlife,” a catchy jam with an ending chorus of “I’m not in love with you, I’m in love with what we do” which sums up the way I felt about NPSH.
They’re an excellent pop band, and I would normally have fun dancing to their songs rather than listening to them. Buy they’ve since upped their game. Everything, including their voices, has been tuned to perfection. What used to be out of tune was now not even a hair sharp or flat. As I had heard during the sound check, and at a party where a nameless member had given away the secret by playing it on piano, NPSH was covering Blink-182, one of my all time favorite bands. “All the Smalls Things” with a funky guitar part replacing Tom Delonge’s sharp, pop punk lead was all that changed, and it was the best part of the whole night. Confused kids, scoffing sulky “hipsters,” and everyone else going absolutely ape-shit stood, danced or laughed their way through the second best cover that could have occurred. Needless to say, I had a great time at this show, getting slammed around by overzealous girls or pushed by very inebriated shirtless males, the end result was fun. No matter what Eric Grandy says, this band is fun because the people who like them are fun. They’re not trying to be anything; they just are.