Kat Solar at the Mercury Lounge 12/3/12

Kat Solar

Mercury Lounge

December 3, 2012

As a boy, my mom played a lot of disco, electro pop and dance music, and I think as a result i find myself drawn to those genres on occasion. So after catching a video teaser for the Detroit, MI-based electro pop artist Kat Solar, I went out to catch her perform her Mercury Lounge debut. Now, sonically I must admit that her sound really isn’t new, as it borrows heavily from Donna Summer-era disco but with a more streamlined, New Wave feel – instead of the lush layered sound of Escort with its horn and string sections, Solar’s sound is based primarily around bass, drums, guitar, synth and vocals. Don’t get me wrong here, the material is funky – songs are propelled forward by bass, synth and drums. But like the disco songs of old, Solar’s songs are filled with naughty, double entendres. Listening to the songs live, I couldn’t help laughing …

I’ve seen quite a number of shows at the Mercury Lounge over the years – both shows I’ve paid for and shows I’ve covered – and Solar’s set was the first set i’ve seen at the Mercury Lounge where I was keeping track of the number of outfit changes: uhmm 4. It was also the only set at the intimate venue where I saw an artist backed by as many dancers as they were outfit changes: also 4. One of them was done on stage while behind a screen, another was done off stage while one of her dancers did a hula hoop routine as a sort of intermission, the fourth one involved just having part of an outfit ripped off. Such a big arena-styled pop show in a tiny venue just seemed hilarious and exorbitantly expensive. I got the point though – Solar, who was inspired by the theater does this to add a dramatic sense of flair to her live set. In some way it works if you get the idea that there’s a campy sensibility to it, and that it shouldn’t be taken super seriously. 

Solar has a powerfully seductive voice and is honestly quite a striking figure to look at; unfortunately, as a dancer she’s clumsy, awkward and unnatural. In some way, it looked as though she were counting the number of steps she needed for a particular move. I suspect that part of that may have to do with the fact that certain aspects of the stage show had to be altered for a small stage. Still, she’s a gorgeous woman with a voluptuous body – it’s kind of difficult to not avoid her and look at her with lust-filled eyes… 

If you’re familiar with disco and electronic dance music, Kat Solar’s sound isn’t new, and in some way it suffers from a lack of originality. Dance songs with naughty, double entendres – let’s see, who does that remind you of? Madonna. Check. Lady Gaga. Check. Donna Summer. Check. But for those unfamiliar with those artists, Solar’s sound may well be the sort of revelation that introduces them to the classic records of Donna Summer or of Madonna. Still, Solar is campy fun and I suspect that her larger than life stage show will make her a star. 

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For these photos and the rest of the photos from this set of dance music, check out the Flickr set here:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/yankee32879/sets/72157632200711054/