Brite Futures at The Vera Project (all photos and videos by Bebe Besch)
Somber reactions met the announcement last month that local pop-electronic band Brite Futures were officially calling it quits in order to pursue solo endeavors. Originally known as Natalie Portman’s Shaved Head (NPSH), it was only fair that for their last performance, fans were able to revisit many of the kitsch band’s milestones with them once more.
Fans patiently were waiting outside The Vera Project sharp at 7:30p.m. Many were sporting vintage Natalie Portman’s Shaved Head t-shirts or ones they had created themselves with “NPSH” tagged onto them. Once Inside, attendees were met with their choice in color of their own free pair of Brite Futures sunglasses and quickly filled up The Vera Project’s gallery and concessions space outside the doors to the showroom. According to the venue’s set times, cake was supposed to be enjoyed between 7:30-9:00p.m. with Brite Futures’ opener, Top Less Gay Love Tekno Party taking the stage thereafter.
As the night grew later, it became apparent there was a hiccup. Around 9:15p.m., people continued to speculate what had become of the opener, who never appeared because they were unfortunately caught up in customs at the Canadian border.
The Brite Futures members who were already at the venue quickly took over to remedy the downtime. When keyboardist/guitarist David Price wasn’t in the gallery space chatting it up with fans, he joined fellow band member Luke Smith on stage as they put on an impromptu DJ dance party together. Naturally, the first song the duo spun was “Party in the U.S.A.” by Miley Cyrus. As a fun surprise, Marshall Verdoes of Mt. St. Helens Vietnam Band even joined them on stage to drum along to one of their CSS remixes. They continued to select some of pop’s current gems as well as mix in a few forgotten guilty pleasures spanning from Genuine to Madonna and even to the terrible earworm of a song, “Call Me Maybe” by Carly Rae Jepsen. The song might have hazily lingered in our minds, but that soon would change; the pop everyone had come to see performed live for the final time would soon would be ringing out of the speakers.
Suspension was building to an ultimate high as the fashionable band arrived about a half hour fashionably later than their slotted time. Fans young and old couldn’t have cared less though. After the notes to “Kissed Her Sister” began chiming, everyone was prepared to party as long as the group would have us.
Brite Futures teased two of their older tunes next, including “Holding Hands in the Shower”. The compact crowd became a perfect vessel for crowd surfing for the duration of the night, and fans had no trouble finding others alongside them for chanting help to another oldie, “Slow Motion Tag Team.”
The next six songs, though appreciated by all, were those found on Brite Futures’ most recent releases. The audiences responsive energy never faltered as they embraced Claire England for her women-empowering verse in “Black Wedding,” and the maximally sassy “Jag in a Jungle,” where the always-sexual Shaun Libman showcased his dancing overtly while singing lyrics about luck.
After guiding the audience through a time-warp, Shaun Libman and Luke Smith took to the stage, appearing as awkward as they probably were in 2007 while performing the second song they ever wrote, “80 Packs of Fruits Snacks”. The song highlights both the beginnings of their quirky feel-good framework as well as the vocal dynamic between the two men (Libman’s voice being lower and robust, with Smith’s being oddly bold as a falsetto) that would be at the height of many of their songs to follow.
After announcing to the crowd that they had transformed back into “Natalie Portman’s f***ing Shaved Head!” the rest of the band helped continue with “Hush Hush,” a favorite from their first album Glistening Pleasure. The transformation wasn’t fully complete though, and near the song’s end, the band abruptly stopped playing as NPSH’s original drummer, Liam Downey, Jr. made his way onto the stage. In a comical gesture, he kicked Brite Futures’ drummer Conor Sisk off the stage to perform a few songs with his old mates.
Liam Downey, Jr.’s visit was welcomed but short lived as the eager and humble Conor Sisk reclaimed his position to help finish the rest of the set. The quintet powered through their remaining songs that were all from their older catalogue, including “Bedroom Costume” and the anticipated “Sophisticated Side Ponytail”. As Claire England took the front of the stage, she declared she had cut her hair the day of the show, a physical break away from NPSH, but that she would live on through the ponytails of her fans in the audience. England danced in a frenzy to the wildly catchy song as she completed her last task as lead vocalist for Brite Futures / NPSH.
Another hairy song, “Beard Lust,” followed as their final song before disappearing off the stage. Fans were relentless for their encore as their screams of “N-P-S-H!” went roaring through the showroom. The band’s first song back to the stage was an instrumental. Next, David Price (who was performing for his first time as lead vocalist) began a cover of R. Kelly’s “Ignition (Remix)”. Price’s voice was surprisingly impressive and the cover left everyone in high spirits as the band neared the performance of their final song ever.
Everyone in the audience began dancing and singing along as hard as possible during their blowout finale of “Iceage Babeland”. A fan in front of me on a pair of crutches even made her best go at rocking out to the epic last song.
While slowly making your way out of the showroom at the show’s end, you noticed the floor glimmered, glistened even from the many sweating bodies. Overhead, Vitamin C’s “Graduation (Friends Forever)” played, instilling the longing sadness for memories past – and though The Vera Project’s showroom floor will eventually dry, the night will not be forgotten and nor will Natalie Portman’s Shaved Head / Brite Futures.
Good luck to each of you – Shaun, Luke, David, Claire, Conor and Liam!
Kissed Her Sister
Holding Hands in the Shower
Slow Motion Tag Team
Test of Time
Too Young To Kill
Jag in a Jungle
80 Packs of Fruit Snacks
The Malibu Highlife
Me + Yr Daughter
Sophisticated Side Ponytail
“Ignition (Remix)” – R. Kelly cover