Levitation Review: The Make-Up

Frugging, shrieking, chanting, walking across upraised palms

Sixties NYC rock primitives the Fugs had a manifesto-as-song, “Frenzy.” The Make-Up don’t cover it, although they probably should. They don’t need to. They live it.

Photo by David Brendan Hall

Within 10 seconds of Saturday evening fanfare and introduction at Cheer Up Charlies, Make-Up mastermind Ian Svenonius stood atop the shoulders of some delighted audience member. Stuck down the singer’s throat, the mic overloaded with howls. Then he began walking across upraised hands, as if he were the Iggy Pop of the Stooges’ 1970 Cincinnati Pop Festival.

He spent at least a third of the set perched atop or traversing those palms. Very literally, Svenonius didn’t have the audience in the palm of his hands. They had him in theirs’!

Some Iggy Pop fan should have brought a jar of peanut butter.

Clad in matching gold lamé, Continental-cut suits and working through hits including “Here Comes the Judge,” “I Am Pentagon,” and “International Airport,” the other three Make-Uppers effectively assisted the well-dressed shaman in enacting this ceremony. Stripped down, standing at the intersection of gospel, soul, and raw rock & roll, the 23-year-old punk brand brandishes a series of brief repetitive riffs like weapons. Trance-inducing and mesmerizing, for sure, this sound incites, not soothes.

Alternating between a Telecaster and keyboards, James Canty looked like a delinquent Matt Lauer. Bassist Michelle Mae proved a paragon of calm, but Deathfix drummer Mark Cisneros didn’t. All three couldn’t help grinning at one another.

You would too, if the music dripping from your fingertips could destroy minds like this.

Meantime, the moptopped preacher sweating through his suit seams kept stoking the fire, frugging, making animal noises, shrieking, chanting, walking across those upraised palms, eyes either thousand-yard-staring or clenched shut. Ian Svenonius is still the Sassiest Boy in America.

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Levitation 2018, The Make-Up, Ian Svenonius, James Canty, Michelle Mae, Mark Cisneros, Deathfix, Iggy Pop, Stooges

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