Dear Mercury—Why will no one admit that Parenthetical Girls is an emo band?
GOOD QUESTION, ISAAC. Also, I WILL ADMIT THAT PARENTHETICAL GIRLS IS AN EMO BAND.
They were last night, anyway. A friend remarked that the main part of their show reminded her of a My Chemical Romance concert, and she was right: loud and shiny and spectacle-y, with Zac Pennington dramatically walking out wearing what's probably best described as a flesh-colored unitard (somewhat awkwardly, this is what I had chosen to wear to the event as well), over which he had a harness connecting him to two massive, helium-filled balloons. This was followed by five women, credited as "Valkyries" in the program (a document whose cover simply boasted the giant words PRIVILEGE IS OVER, a Masonic Square and Compasses, and "PARENTHETICAL GIRLS, ET AL."), walking through the crowd, one by one, spitting something into Pennington's hand—I was sitting in the back, so I couldn't see the details, but I have been informed that they were "glitter eggs," which Pennington then threw, because this is what you do with glitter eggs.
All of this was accompanied by three massive video screens, and all of this had been preceded by performances from Jherek Bischoff, and Golden Retriever, and Classical Revolution PDX, and dancer Allie Hankins—topless! covered in glittery gold!—all of whom collided onstage for the Pennington-led finale, which felt like a big, sonic wash that kind of obliterated everything that had come before—Golden Retriever's intense, Vangelis-score-for-Blade Runner-y performance with Classical Revolution PDX, Hankins' (similarly intense) dance. Pennington's a hell of a showman, talented and confident and (this sounds weird to write about a dude I used to work with and—disclaimer!—am still friendly acquaintances with, but okay) somehow both sexual and androgynous at once. He's fun to watch, and the general sense of the performance—lavish melancholy—came through strong, even though the sound system in the Washington High auditorium is, turns out, pretty shittily equipped to handle the sort of grand, complex sound the show was based around.
The sound system was bad enough, actually, that the show briefly stopped as they tried to work out some sound issues, with an understandably testy Pennington complaining before giving up and moving on. The show ended shortly afterward, abruptly and surprisingly soon—it's TBA, so who knows, maybe that was the plan, or maybe, as was suggested by a few people afterward, Pennington had cut it short. The performance as a whole—with all of its associated acts—didn't feel short to me, but the final, Parenthetical Girls-focused segment, which concluded with a camera following Pennington through the halls of Washington High before wandering outside the school, the resultant broadcast on those big video screens, did feel like it ended too soon—it might've been overwhelming and blurry, but the music is solid, and what can I say? I like this sort of stuff. I like My Chemical Romance too.
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