LA’s finest gypster girls and their sandal-wearing bros packed into the marble courtyard at the Hammer Museum for last night’s debut performance of Devendra Banhart’s Megapuss. Sharing the stage with Priestbird’s Greg Rogove, Devendra and his usual gang cranked out eight originals and teased between songs with a loose cover of “Everybody Wants to Rule the World.” Devendra, wrapped in a skirt of rubber dicks, and Greg, draped in a loose-fitting summery man dress, were physical embodiments of Laurel Canyon’s spirited music scene. A full moon overhead, and a crowd of hundreds cross-legged at their feet, the band sweated and smiled through a rough and tumble hour-long set, with Greg handling most of the vocals.
The band kept from taking shit too seriously by having Aziz Ansari sing “Duck People, Duck Man”—a ridiculous song about not being racist against the Duck Man. “They threatened anal rape if I didn’t sing this,” he said. “Crop Circle Jerk ‘94”—the only other song on the band’s MySpace, was probably the most accomplished song of the night, but all of the new ones held some kind of promise.
A highlight was the total slow burner “Chicken Tits,” with Devendra wailing a wicked Frankie Valli falsetto against Greg’s Waitsian croon. Then they ripped through a honky tonk number about an old lady making it in Los Angeles called “Hollywood.” The evening was classed up a bit when a harpist took the stage and a conch was blown for “Surfin,” which Devendra announced was the title song of their upcoming debut.
Underneath all the silly shit you could hear a legitimate band of talented musicians, capable of effortlessly tossing off the finest in California-style tambourine jams. Still, most songs lasted less than two minutes and there were disembodied dicks projected on the screen behind them as part of photographer Lauren Duckoff’s display. The rest of the images were mostly of Devendra and his gang, many of which were made into paper dolls which floated around the screen.
It was a comfortable show, with the band emanating a feeling of inclusion that kept the crowd rapt throughout the shambolic set. Devendra announced, “We normally do this in my living room, but if we were at my house you’d all be naked.” Afterwards the band hung around to hug audience members and take pictures with their celebrity friends.