Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2017-12-13
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

Sponsor
Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

BENT NIGHTS Vic Mensa; Lavender Country
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Vern Hester
2017-10-24

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email


When I met rapper Vic Mensa eight years ago, I asked him the silliest question imaginable: "Why do you look so pissed in your photos?" That was when he was in the performing arts high school collective Kids These Days and long before he dropped "16 Shots," a controversially inflammatory and unequivocally blunt single addressing the shooting death of Laquan McDonald by police officer Jason Van Dyke ( and the video includes police footage of the shooting ).

Following a steady path to widespread recognition—including several collaborations with Kanye West and Damon Albarn, spearheading the SaveMoney collective, releasing two well-received EPs ( The Manuscript and Theres's A Lot Going On, both on Roc Records ), snatching a Grammy nomination and working at the forefront of the anti-police brutality movement—he has emerged as one of the South Side's favorite sons. He dropped his debut full-length ( The Autobiography, on Roc Records ) earlier this year and is set to open for Jay-Z's massive stadium tour later this fall. Oh, yeah: He also played a free pop-up show at Thalia Hall on Sept. 26 that was packed to the rafters.

The Autobiography is, as expected, rich with rage and confrontation, but it also comes with a wealth of hidden gems that reveal Mensa as a stunning composer and rapper at any age. ( He is 24. ) The uncharacteristic "Heaven on Earth" reaches for the stars but the break-up ballad "Cigarettes and Coffee" is lyrically dramatic and precise. ( "You were only 17, fallin' in love with everything ... except me," he croons and you'd have to be dead not to feel his hurt. ) On the far less serious "Rollin' Like a Stoner," Mensa has a trippy, goofy blast sending up rap-star excess. In the equally loopy video, a near zombie-fied Mensa stares at the camera lens blankly while singing, "I am a disaster, I don't need no recipe. Tried to be sober, that didn't work for me." Its not exactly like he didn't warn us when he barked, "F*ck you think, I'mma be some type of role model?" on the album closing rave-up "OMG."

After DJ Oreo blew the roof off of Thalia Hall, Mensa took all those happy party vibes and morphed them into something pretty dark with a blistering "16 Shots" as the opener. What followed was high-octane rap delivered with stunning anger and a brutal pace as Mensa kept leaping into the crowd, turning this "concert" into a heated though friendly confrontation. "U Mad," "OMG" and "Rage" were incendiary and they had a bruising gravity. These were songs about living in a still segregated Chicago by a young Chicago artist in front of a young Chicago audience and the fact that Mensa was expressing shared rage was inescapable. Still, Mensa avoided making his show a raging bitch fest by tucking in the heartfelt "Heaven On Earth" toward the second section of his show while rocking "Rollin' Like A Stoner" like the party anthem it is.

With so much reverential press on out activist Patrick Haggerty and his album Lavender Country ( Paradise of Bachelors Records )—hailed as the first gay country music album ever ( it was released in 1973 )—you would think he and it would be fossils. However, as evidenced by his recent sold-out show at The Hideout, you would be sorely mistaken. Still feisty and sassy at 72, Haggerty and a rebooted version of his band, Lavender Country, finally made their Chicago debut and did more then sing some old songs: He took his audience through a night of storytelling, history and mirth.

There was plenty of music, but the night belonged to Haggerty's stories about what it was like growing up poor and queer in rural Washington state and having the influence of a loving father who accepted and embraced him regardless of what others thought. One of his amusing tales had the sassy, teenaged Haggerty performing and singing in the local Catholic Church talent show in drag. His father's only quibble was that he sang with the accompaniment of a pianist rather than doing a full-on Liberace while accompanying himself.

As fun and interesting as his stories were, the fact that the music on Lavender Country is just as pungent as it was 40 years ago was astonishing. "Cryin' These Cocksucking Tears," which enjoys a history all its own, is a custom queer barroom weeper with more than a dash of bile—and Haggerty gave it his all. "Gay Bar Blues" evokes the sleaze and forced down-low guilt of the pre-Stonewall era while "I Can't Shake the Stranger Out of You" posits the age old gay battle between lust and intimacy. In a roundabout way, the way Haggerty sang them on this night, both songs slyly commented on the current trend toward phone apps and hook ups.

There was still a lot of fun to be had with a spirited reading of "Red Dress," a song he wrote commemorating his sister's divorce and a hard-swinging bop through the Patsy Cline chestnut "Walking After Midnight." ( "Patsy Cline didn't do no walking after midnight!!!," cracked Haggerty. ). Proving himself ever the romantic, he dedicated Hank Williams' "Hey Good Lookin'" to his partner of 30 years, J.D.—and they two-stepped to the finish.


facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email




Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Gay News

'Don't Give Up' is Maggie Szabo's song dedicated to transgender youth 2017-12-15 - Maggie Szabo is a Canadian singer-songwriter who has been winning over audiences worldwide with her stunningly soulful vocals and empowering pop anthems. Hailing ...


Gay News

Soloway's musical satire "Jesus Has Two Mommies" presents benefit for EI 2017-12-15 - The Annoyance Theatre will present a special benefit for Equality Illinois featuring a one-time viewing of a recorded performance of Faith Soloway's musical ...


Gay News

Rock musical Lizzie extends, Broadway's Ciara Renee joins cast 2017-12-15 - CHICAGO ( December 14, 2017 ) — Following a brief hiatus for the holidays, Firebrand Theatre is pleased to announce its hit rock ...


Gay News

THEATER REVIEW Sir Gawain and the Green Knight: A Rock 'n' Rock Musical 2017-12-13 - Book by: John C. Ashton. Music and lyrics by: Foreigner, Scorpions, Great White and more At: Raven Theatre Complex, 6157 N. Clark St. ...


Gay News

MUSIC Matisyahu talks new CD, religion, LGBTs 2017-12-13 - Matisyahu ( nee Matthew Paul Miller ) definitely made an impression when the public got to know him more than a decade ago. ...


Gay News

Lakeside Pride honors Strawn 2017-12-13 - Lakeside Pride Music Ensembles members presented Member Resources Director Brandon Strawn with its Founders Award in recognition of his longtime contributions to the ...


Gay News

Showbiz news: Laverne Cox, 'Queer Eye,' Patti LaBelle, Rogers-Berlanti wedding 2017-12-12 - Emmy Award nominee Laverne Cox is set to host the Lifetime beauty-competition series Glam Masters, set to air Wed., Feb. 28, a press ...


Gay News

Resistance songs highlight Artemis Singers "Rise Up" Concert Jan. 13 2017-12-12 - EVANSTON, Ill. Artemis Singers, Chicago's lesbian feminist chorus, will present "Rise Up," a call-to-action concert of progressive, energizing music, with guest artist Melanie ...


Gay News

THEATER REVIEW Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, A Rock 'n' Rock Musical 2017-12-11 - Book by: John C. Ashton. Music and lyrics by: Foreigner, Scorpions, Great White and more At: Raven Theatre Complex, 6157 N. Clark St. ...


Gay News

MUSIC Matisyahu talks new CD, religion, LGBTs 2017-12-08 - Matisyahu ( nee Matthew Paul Miller ) definitely made an impression when the public got to know him more than a decade ago. ...


 



Copyright © 2017 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 

 

 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS

Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor


 



Sponsor

About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group produces Windy City Queercast, & publishes Windy City Times,
The Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community,
Nightspots, Out! Resource Guide, and Identity.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.