Corey Feldman sweats it out.
Review by Joshua LohriusImagine yourself staring at a massive grease spot in the middle of an empty road. You're watching and waiting. Waiting for a car to speed by and skid through the grease spot, and maybe even fly off the road and crash into a ditch in a screaming ball of flaming, twisted metal. You're anticipating a horrific, disturbing scene, but you won't look away. Hell, you might even pay an eight-dollar cover charge to stand there. That was the vibe that pervaded Joe's on Weed Street last Tuesday night as two hundred or so audience members watched a dark empty stage. Watching. Waiting. Waiting for Corey Feldman.
Photos by Barry Brecheisen
He took the stage about an hour behind schedule. And believe me, friends, when I say that the car didn't land in a ditch, it went flying off a cliff.
After an epic, ten-minute, Pink Floyd-esque introduction, during which the keyboardist, drummer, bassist, guitarist and back-up singers slowly sauntered onstage one by one, the former child star of the hour finally appeared. Wearing a bizarre black-feathered sombrero and an outfit swiped from Prince's dressing room circa 1988, the veteran of "Goonies," "Stand By Me" and the "Lost Boys" led his band into "Soul Searcher," a hard rocking, guitar-driven original number. Feldman flailed his arms, struck choreographed poses and leapt across the stage with a wildly dramatic, over-the-top verve that inspired some audience members to chuckle warmly at the man's campiness and apparent willingness to kid and poke a little fun at himself. When Feldman suddenly blew a screeching harmonica into the microphone, people began to doubt whether or not he was actually kidding. During the second number (profoundly titled "Soul Searcher Part 2"), he tore off his shirt and broke into some intense sort of mime-robot dancing, and it became horribly clear that this was no joke, not even a bad one. Ironically, that was when the laughter crescendoed, and you got the sense that Feldman was the only person in the entire club who was taking this seriously.
Despite the support of a musically able outfit behind him, Feldman's ridiculous rock star act and sub-sub-sub-par vocal abilities sent half the crowd packing by the fifth number. The sole highlight of the evening took place when Feldman actually left the stage and the bassist, Pharaoh, led the band in a rousing rendition of the Jackson 5's "I Want You Back." Feldman soon returned in all his cotton candy grandeur and proceeded to torture the audience with absurd originals about drug addiction, jilted love, Michael Jackson and the perils of child stardom, as well as covers of Pink Floyd's "Young Lust," Joe Cocker's version of Traffic's "Feeling Alright" and the Who's "Baba O'Reilly," dedicated to the late John Enthswistle. (Yet another firestorm of profundity.)
By the time the lights went on at midnight, there were maybe 30 people left in the audience, and they all headed for the door with the desperate relief of lifers running toward a hole in the prison fence. Praise Jesus, it was all over. That was when the emcee grabbed the mike and asked if Chicago wanted more Corey Feldman. Despite the blatant absence of an audience response (beyond coos from a gaggle of young women whom Corey had danced with on stage earlier), Feldman and the band charged back onto the stage with a shameless cover of Ben E. King's "Stand By Me." The encore lasted longer than Ravi Shankar's set at Monterey Pop, including an original love song called "I Believe Again," a cover of Bill Withers' "Use Me," and endless band introductions, capped off with extended drum, keyboard, bass and guitar solos. Now I know what an appendectomy without anesthetic feels like.
By the end of the show, I realized that we, the audience, as well as the band, had merely been extras as Feldman played out his latest role. Regular people standing around while a primadonna waxed fantastical. (He even wielded his own video camera on stage to record the event, and actually kept it pointed at his own face more than at the audience.) Sure, everyone wants to be in a band, and obviously Feldman's past successes have afforded him the opportunity. More power to the guy. But his pathetic and deluded masquerade as the amalgamation of Elvis, Mick Jagger, Axl Rose and Eddie Vedder insults a ticket-buying audience, and makes it difficult to forgive his galactic lack of musical talent.
This was a miserable show. And as much as morbid curiosity may tempt you to watch that fiery car wreck, you won't escape the lifetime of nightmares and haunting memories.
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