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A Froggy Gay

I was among the lavender horde that attended the Rufus Wainwright concert at the Hollywood Bowl, his recreation of Judy Garland's 1961 performance at Carnegie Hall (glowingly reviewed by the L.A. Times here, if you're of a mind). I had given up on being able to scam tickets through my limited connections but The Boyfriend, a big Rufus fan but who absolutely hates the Bowl and hasn't been there in well over a decade, wanted to see this so badly that he not only procured terrace box seats (better connections, needless to say) but packed an extravagant picnic for the two of us and fully researched all of our transportation options that would keep us from having to drive there and park.

The experience of getting there was great. We took the Red Line to Hollywood and Highland and it was like getting off at Castro Street South; men everywhere, dressed for fun and all handsy and smoochy. I loved stepping into the faux 42nd street of Hollywood & Highland, particularly with platoons of gay men giving the camera-toting tourists their money's worth. ("This is the Chinese Theatre; there's Jack Sparrow and there's Minnie Mouse and, oh look, there's two men, oh gracious, don't look after all.") The Hollywood Bowl Orchestra was perfection, the seats couldn't have been better, the dining was superb, the night was beautiful and an almost full moon hung in the sky. It was as close to an ideal evening at the Hollywood Bowl as one could imagine.

The orchestra struck up the familiar opening chords, a quite fetching Rufus Wainwright made his entrance, and we were off. About fifteen minutes into the show, The Boyfriend leans over and says, “I mean this in the nicest way possible, but he’s not very good.” He was, in fact, little more than mediocre and in exceedingly bad voice, but I didn't want to be the one to bring it up. Once the subject had been raised, however, it was hard to let it go. There were few songs that didn't involve missing notes entirely and some attempts actually caused us to wince. More than once, the singer would acknowledge the mistake with a shrug and a "Whatever," which seemed more than a little dismissive of the audience, and Wainwright was rather pleased with himself for singing "Do It Again" in the original key, a key that was evidently nowhere near one that was in his range. Breathily reaching for the notes caused his head to fall back, making us aware of the generous flare of his nostrils when his huge image was projected onto the video screens on either side of the stage. His sister Martha Wainwright came out and brought the place to life for the first time that evening by tearing up "Stormy Weather," which was the topic of heated conversation in the men's room line at intermission. "Isn't this horrible?" was the buzz among the neatly filed. "How come his sister got the only standing ovation so far?"

We made it as far as the first few chords of Over the Rainbow, on which his mother, Kate McGarrigle, played piano. At that point we were about two thirds of the way through the evening and it was clear things were not going to improve. Another stop by the men's room on the way out (no restrooms on the L.A. subway) brought an unprovoked "Can you believe this?" from the gentleman about 12 urinals away. Frankly, I couldn't. The original Judy Garland album is too iconic to listen to somebody with the best of intentions do it injustice. We were not, to paraphrase, in the mood to “stay all night and desecrate them all.”

--Wenzel Jones

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Comments

I can't believe you didn't stick around for
Rufus in full Judy "Get Happy" drag:
http://youtube.com/watch?v=DDoy2UkhRAE

Despite your review, I'm still kicking myself for missing this. I've never been a huge Rufus fan, but it looks like the tribute was well-intentioned and--at least--fun. Would have been worth it for Martha's '
"Stormy Weather." But I was a silly straight girl and went to Roller Derby practice. Sigh.

BTW, I'd plotz if my boyfriend sprung for box seats at the Bowl to a show I wanted to see (instead of Rush or equally awful early 80s prog rock outfit) AND brought a gourmet dinner. You're a lucky fella.

Lauren

I can't believe you didn't stick around for
Rufus in full Judy "Get Happy" drag:
http://youtube.com/watch?v=DDoy2UkhRAE

Despite your review, I'm still kicking myself for missing this. I've never been a huge Rufus fan, but it looks like the tribute was well-intentioned and--at least--fun. Would have been worth it for Martha's '
"Stormy Weather." But I was a silly straight girl and went to Roller Derby practice. Sigh.

BTW, I'd plotz if my boyfriend sprung for box seats at the Bowl to a show I wanted to see (instead of Rush or equally awful early 80s prog rock outfit) AND brought a gourmet dinner. You're a lucky fella.

Lauren

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