Chantal Claret Grabs New York By Its Very Sexy Throat: A Very Sexy Concert Review Featuring Dennis Cahlo & The Change
One woman can make my heart beat and stomach jump just by existing, and that woman is Chantal Claret. The last time I saw her perform, she was still the frontwoman of now defunct band Morningwood, opening for Mindless Self Indulgence in 2012. Since then, she's released The Pleasure Seeker EP, and a full-length album The One, The Only. Her headlining performances as a solo artist have been limited to Los Angeles until this week, when she made her New York debut at the Studio at Webster Hall.
I keep formulating a way to describe the show, thinking I'll pull the classic "but the highlight of the night was..." but every time I think I've whittled the voluptuous, full figured show into a Vogue model, I throw down the chisel and proclaim, "I'm so stupid! Everything was the highlight of the show!" and then I stop whittling and stop talking to myself because those are the things that keep people from reading my blog and talking to me in real life.
The show opened with MSI frontman and Claret's husband Jimmy Urine introducing the singer as "I'm pretty nice if you're not an asshole," and from her reaction to the crowd, we weren't assholes. She was overcome with emotion throughout the night, and more grateful than any artist of her caliber needs to be.
Chantal commands a room with her theatrics and powerful voice, which culminate in a performance and sound that combines the best elements of the late Morningwood aesthetic, 60's girl groups, jazz, and just a dash of punk rock. A friend described it best- she didn't dance to the music, the music danced to her. In such an intimate setting (and by intimate I mean church-style basement with notoriously spotty acoustics) there's no room for error, and not a single one worked its way out of the cracks. Chantal's voice was powerful, her skits were on point, and her command of the room never wavered. She's not afraid to get weird, and her risks are rewarding for everyone involved.
Several new songs were on the set list, including one that has yet to debut in Claret's home of Los Angeles. She instructed us not to tell California that piece of information, but I'm pretty sure about two people read this blog, so the likelihood of this reaching the west coast is slim.
Claret also covered Andre Williams' "Jailbait," and her powerful voice was best on show here, where she managed to make spoken word more brassy and bold than ever thought possible.
The entire selection of music was superb, but favorites included my national anthem "Real Girls," call and response "Davy Crockett," and "Pleasure Seeker," for which she had the entire audience seated on the floor as she serenaded her father.
Opening act Dennis Cahlo & The Change were superb, and amply prepared the crowd for Chantal's unique energy and physicality. Frontman Dennis Cahlo moves like the inflatable man in front of a car dealership, but instead of coming across like Dee Reynolds, his rubbery hip thrusts lend a deeper authenticity to the band's sound, which is constituted of a mixture of punk rock and later releases from The Strokes.
The whole concert can be streamed for free here and I highly recommend watching.