20 bonus shots in the gallery above
Last night was the fourth annual Cyndi Lauper & Friends Home for the Holidays concert to benefit her True Colors Fund. The lineup was so eclectic as to almost be off-putting; we're so used to compartmentalized music it seemed jarring to consider hearing Cyndi, Metric, Sufjan Stevens, 50 Cent, Nataline Maines and Salt-N-Pepa all on one bill.
But the diversity of artists led to a long, fun, interesting show, one spiked with equal parts good cheer and defiance.
Emcees Rosie O'Donnell and Laverne Cox were a curious yin and yang, with O'Donnell condemning Woody Allen and Bill Cosby while Cox preferred “happy thoughts” and red-carpet posing.
“Twenty-three women in their seventies just woke up and thought, 'What should I do today? Go to Target, or fuck up Bill Cosby's life?' I say he's guilty, and it's sad because it's like a death: We lost Joan, we lost Robin, and we lost Bill Cosby. That's what it feels like to me.”
The crowd approved. But there was a mixed response when she invoked the Hands Up, Don't Shoot! and I Can't Breathe populist outrage that protesters not far away were expressing—some boos, some oohs, some cheers. O'Donnell was perplexed.
“That's controversial? What the hell kind of gay crowd is this? The revolution has started!”
Perhaps a gay crowd that spends big money to attend charity fundraisers is more inclined to side with police when it comes to altercations with people of color. Or perhaps the gay crowd was just in a holiday mood and didn't want to think about contentious issues.
The night had two exciting performances by newcomers, from Emily West's confident take on Sia's “Chandelier” to a break-out performance from Liv Warfield, whose green hair and possession of the stage captivated as her soaring voice lifted the crowd from its seats. O'Donnell was so blown away she called Warfield back out to heap well-deserved praise on her.
Orange is the New Black star Lea DeLaria appeased scat queens with her energetic “I Love the Life”, which brought another standing O.
50 Cent's extended medley had the place in party mode, which found Flotilla DeBarge swaying in the aisle. This continues his path away from questionable attitudes on gay rights and gay men in particular.
Natalie Maines, sporting a dykealicious 'do, electrified the place with her “Not Ready to Make Nice”, then could be seen pushin' it real good through Salt-N-Pepa's joyously iconic medley of all their best songs. S-N-P was what did it for me.
Of course Cyndi, back to blonde, was the star of the evening, and rightly so. She emerged to perform with STRFKR (“Girls Just Want To Have Fun”), Metric's Emily Haines and James Shaw (“Gimme Sympathy”), Rob Thomas (“Time After Time”), Natalie Maines and Patty Griffin (“Truth No. 2”) and Salt-N-Pepa (Cyndi rapped on “Whatta Man”), before ending the evening with “Money Changes Everything” and duets with West (“True Colors”) and Warfield (“Home for the Holidays”).
It was a good night for a great cause, and another example of both Lauper's indefatigable desire to give back, and her fans' indefatigable desire to help her do it.