Australian glam-pop warriors Empire Of The Sun finally journeyed to the northern hemisphere this month, debuting their magical mystical stage show at Lollapalooza in Chicago and then heading west to Los Angeles for a sold-out, four-night stint at Hollywood’s Henry Fonda Theater, starting August 11.
It was a long time coming (Empire’s album came out in America a year ago). But then frontman Luke Steele emerged onstage – resplendent in a tribal headpiece seemingly fashioned out of Venetian blinds, Adam Ant warpaint, and sparkly Mad Max armor, and flanked by leotarded, lightboard-strumming fembot dancers wearing My Pretty Pony-hair epaulets and lipstick-pink Daft Punk welder helmets. And the Angeleno audience knew it had all been worth the wait.
The hour-long show-of-shows that followed was a blurry, sensory-warping series of dreamy Discovery Channel landscapes, confetti blizzards, and crazy costume changes–Empire’s Spandex-sheathed dancers rotated such memorable looks as Power Ranger superheroines, black-clad ninjas, batgirls with umbrella hands, sequined burkas, ruffled gold mylar clown collars, rainbow-caped geishas in Nip/Tuck Carver masks, and, most arrestingly, mermaid/swordfish hybrids in pointy fish masks and waist-length platinum wigs.
Emperor Steele made quite a dazzling impression too, especially when he rolled out for “Half Mast” in a gilt wheelchair with an oversized Flavor Flav-style clock looped around his neck, or when he executed a perfect Townshend-style guitar smash while dressed in the head-to-toe Oriental finery from the Walking On A Dream album art.
The two-night stint by the equally ambitious and OTT Lady Gaga actually kicked off at the Staples Center across town the same night as Empire Of The Sun’s Fonda residency. But really, Empire’s show was the place to be in L.A. this week.