It’s a wrap for Yeah Yeah Yeahs lead singer Karen O‘s self-described debut “psycho opera,” Stop The Virgens, that ran at New York’s St Ann’s Warehouse this month, but the production sure left a lasting impression on everyone who was lucky enough to snap up one of the highly sought-after tickets.An orgy for the senses, Stop The Virgens was nothing less than stimulating, both musically and visually, from the moment guests stepped across the threshold and into Karen’s tunnel. And I mean that quite literally, in fact; the show began in a cavernous, snaking shroud of gossamer sheets and mist, from which a cast of “Virgens” writhed enticingly as the audience meandered through, their heavy breathing rasping from behind translucent veils.
And who could expect any less from rock ‘n’ roll’s mistress of quirky ostentation? With Yeah Yeah Yeahs band mate Nick Zinner as Musical Director, Karen O’s opera showcased the dream team’s infinite creativity and music making prowess. Incorporating Karen’s distinctive voice, lashings of Yeah Yeah Yeahs style beats and a myriad of referential sounds from the humble ballad to electro-dance and tropical undertones, the music drove the entire spectacle to brave, psychedelic new heights. And with costumes by Karen O’s long time right-hand-clothing-man Christian Joy, the stage came alive; a beautiful, feathered, musical monster rising against the crowd of wide-eyed audience members.
Beginning in a projected forest-scape, the opening scene saw Karen O take center stage, enveloped in a cocoon of swathed fabrics in rainbow colors. Her voice permeated from beneath her costume in dulcet tones, decidedly marked by her signature rasp. Eventually, the butterfly emerged and an ensemble cast of scrawny girls in white and tousled wigs, the “Virgens,” took to the stage in support of Karen. Celebrating youth, tragedy, dreams and sex, from there the show descended into near madness, treading the line between creepy and whimsical with the expert showmanship that only Karen O can master.
Bounding around the stage in a sparkling cape, throwing up handfuls of glitter and with a smile as wide as her face gleaming in the spotlight, what came through clearest against the backdrop of music, movement and obtuse “plot” line was Karen O’s love for the stage and for her art. Even when the whole cast of Virgens began vomiting blood and dropping like flies across the stage at the show’s climax, the spectacle could not surpass the formidable presence of the woman at the center of it all. Despite the high drama, exotic dance moves and exploding, colorful projections, Karen O herself was the most compelling part of the whole show, possessing the kind of otherworldly demeanor that makes everything she does a true joy to behold.
By Kat George
[Photo: Getty Images]