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Neon Tommy - Annenberg digital news

MS MR At The Troubadour: Review

Katie Buenneke |
October 20, 2013 | 5:55 p.m. PDT

Theater Editor

MS MR at the Troubadour. (Katie Buenneke/Neon Tommy)
MS MR at the Troubadour. (Katie Buenneke/Neon Tommy)
MS MR is a band that is so hipster that you might want to metaphysically slap yourself for listening to them. You won't follow through, because they make such good music that you can't get too mad at yourself, or anyone else, for listening to them. Before you know it, you'll be playing their songs for your friends and wearing plaid shirts and thick glasses and sitting in an independent coffee shop non-ironically discussing how one of your favorite songs of the moment talks about "Revolution from dissolution, hypnotizing and demoralizing." And your transition into full-fledged hipsterdom will be complete, and you won't even notice it, because MS MR's music really is so good that you don't care if people mock you for loving a band whose lead singer has neon green hair.

But it's hard to imagine Lizzie Plapinger, the "Ms." of MS MR, with normal-colored hair. Her beautiful, smoky voice already gives her an otherworldly quality, a sentiment echoed by the eclectic underscoring provided by producer Max Hershenow ("Mr.").

When MS MR takes the stage, they send out an undeniable aura of coolness. Maybe it's Plapinger's percussive dancing, or the calming chord progression of songs like "BTSK," or maybe it's just that the blue light that washes over the stage for the majority of the concert, but Plapinger and Hershenow give off the vibe that they're tuned into some big secret about the world that the rest of us have yet to figure out.

Lizzie Plapinger of MS MR. (Katie Buenneke/Neon Tommy)
Lizzie Plapinger of MS MR. (Katie Buenneke/Neon Tommy)
The most remarkable thing about watching MS MR, though, is how likable they are. When they perform their songs, the lyrics come to life, hammering home their relevance to the twenty-somethings who populate the audience. Given how self-assured and comfortable they are performing before a sold-out crowd at the Troubadour, it's easy to forget how young the duo is (they graduated from Vassar in 2010). The lyrics, though, are a visceral kick to the gut, and remind the audience that even people as cool as MS MR go through the same personal struggles and successes as everyone else.

Watching Plapinger smile fondly while singing "Dark Doo Wop," crooning, "That's my / that's my man… baby you should stick around," the audience finds themselves intoxicated by the heady power of love. Likewise, during MS MR's cover of LCD Soundsystem's "Dance Yrself Clean," the bitter edge when she sings "Talking like a jerk / except you are an actual jerk / and living proof / that sometimes friends are mean," hits a little too close to home, in a cathartic way.

Everything comes to a head when MS MR performs "Hurricane," their most popular song, and the show's closing number. As they proclaim, "welcome to the inner workings of my mind / so dark and foul I can't describe," the audience can't help but feel a little less alone in the world. It's reassuring to know that everyone else is just as weird as you are, and sharing that bond with hundreds of strangers is an exhilarating experience.

Read more of NT's show reviews here.

Reach Katie here or follow her on Twitter here.



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