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Rebel Rebel: Rock for Pussy II (Monday, April 4th, 2005, First Avenue, Minneapolis)
Many of the guest vocalists for the night came on stage for the finale, a rousing version of "Young Americans" at Rebel Rebel: Rock For Pussy II at First Avenue Monday night. Photo by Steve Cohen. Click here for Steve's full gallery of photos from the show.

By David de Young

Rock for Pussy was a little rocky as far as attendance went this year, but those of you who chose to stay home Monday night really missed out on a great musical experience with some truly awesome local music moments. For the second year in a row, Mary Lucia, (now weekday 3-7 host of 89.3 the Current) organized the event as a benefit for local no kill cat shelters. The showcase features the Rock For Pussy house band (Kitty Stardust) and a rotating cast of local musicians perform ing their favorite David Bowie classics.

I was in line at the door as the show began at 9:30 with “Suffragette City.” (Since it was a Monday night, maybe an earlier start time might have helped attendance?) As I walked into the club, Curtis A was belting out the show’s theme song, the second song of the set, “Rebel Rebel.”

Chris Pericelli of Little Man performed an energetic version of “Hang On To Yourself.” Leslie’s Ball’s “Little wonder” was another upbeat moment early in the show (Ball pointed out, “You know you’re a Bowie fan when the lyrics to ‘Little Wonder’ have meaning in your life.) And Adam Levy looked and sounded like the rock star he is during his pair of songs, “Sound and Vision” and “John I’m Only Dancing.”

Ultimately, the difference between a good and a great rock show comes down to energy. When audience numbers are below ideal levels as they were Monday, it puts an extra burden on performers. And once you’ve identified an energy deficit the next problem becomes figuring out which side of the stage is responsible for it. In my opinion, last night, the band gave their all. And the attentive audience was guilty only of being a little bit too spread out across the club.

It wasn’t until Mark Miller of Dallas Orbiter got onstage to perform “Ashes to Ashes” that the artificial bubble around the stage broke, and people moved en masse to the middle the dance floor. Prior to that moment, other than me and a few other random photographers, about the only people who’d spent much time in “no man’s land” near the stage were Steve Cohen of (who provides us with his wonderful pictures this year.) Show organizer Mary Lucia and performer Laurie Lindeen should also be credited with setting the enthusiastic mood for the crowd, as well as Krista Vilinskis from Tinderbox Music. Once the bubble was broken, the show took an energy turn for the better and frankly it became a lot more fun.

Chris Koza performs "Let's Dance" - Photo by Steve Cohen (click photo for full gallery)

Then, half a dozen songs later Chris Koza of the band formerly known as The Channels, now known as Chris Koza (and glammed out like I’d never seen him), nearly brought down the house with an extraordinary rendition of "Let's Dance." I try not to overuse the adjective, but it was, in a word, amazing. Had more people been in attendance it might have been legendary; you’ll just have to take my word for it. Though it’s difficult to put a finger on exactly what it was, there was something soulful and inspired about Koza’s performance that you don’t see on a local stage every day. Koza was clearly “going for it,” singing the song as if his life depended on it, as if it were the final round of American Idol and all the chips were down. (Or to use a modified version of a [Dan] Ratherism, “as if his back was against the wall, his shirttail was on fire, and the bill collector was at the door.”) Add to that the fact that Koza is a just starting to make a name for himself as a solo performer so many people in attendance didn’t even know who he was, and you’ll start to get the picture. When I commended him on his performance when he descended from the stage, he exhibited humble grattitude and would only admit that he “practiced it a few times.”

Other notable performances in the last part of the show were Randy Casey’s “Space Oddity” and Dan Israel’s bespectacled renditions of “Ziggy Stardust” and “Heroes.” The evening’s music seemed to end rather abruptly without the post-show comments from Lucia I had hoped for, with John Eller leading a version of “Young Americans” during which many of the musicians who had participated came back to the stage to sing backup vocals.

Do have a look at Steve Cohen’s photos in the gallery if you have not done so yet.

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