“Because it has to be said Storm Large is an astounding presence on the stage. And that voice. She can smoulder like a chanteuse and then she lets fly with one of the most powerful rock voices I have ever heard in my life and have you pinned to the back wall with its intensity.”
-Short Back & Sides: Adelaide Reviews 2011 (AU)
“With all the bawdiness, talent and charisma of a young Bette Midler and a personality that is both unapologetic and endearing, Large proves that she is destined to be one of the most electrifying performers of her time.” -PDX Magazine
“Storm Large is a potent and charismatic performer who catches your attention and never lets it go. (She) is someone to watch. She is compelling, fascinating and almost uniquely unconventional.”
- Peter Leavy, Cabaret Scenes
“Storm Large delivers each song with an unwavering, exhilarating intensity and passion that pierces the air with a controlled recklessness sure to send shivers down your spine throughout this beautiful storm of a show” - Edinburgh Festival Magazine (UK)
STORM LARGE Primarily a mouthy rock musician, Storm Large has been singing and slinging inappropriate banter at audiences around the globe for more than 20 years. With her band, The Balls, she has toured all around the US, Canada, New Zealand, Spain, Iceland and Singapore. Taking a break from rock touring in 2007, she ventured into new territory and played Sally Bowles in Cabaret and fell in love with the theater. In 2008 she wrote a musical memoir, Crazy Enough that ran for five sold-out months at Portland Center Stage in 2009 in Portland, Oregon. Following its opening success, Crazy Enough ran at the 2010 Edinburgh Fringe Festival earning rave reviews, and was a featured show at the 2011 Adelaide Cabaret Festival in Adelaide, Australia, and has a Broadway run in the works. Storm was recently in the world premier of Randy Newman's " Harps And Angels" at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles, and with all her free time she has performed several sold out performances with the Oregon Symphony. She has spent most of the past year as the guest vocalist for Pink Martini, touring the US and Europe. And in her spare time she is an activist in her home town, still gigs with her band, and has her first book, “Crazy Enough: A Memoir,” set to be released in January 2012 by Free Press with Simon & Schuster.
James Beaton - Piano
Scott Weddle - Guitar and Bass
Greg Eklund - Drums
Ladylike – Storm and The Balls
Ladylike - Featuring Dave Navarro
Crazy Enough – Storm Large (order @ cdbaby)
Ladylike Side One – Storm Large (order @ cdbaby)
Vasectomy – The Balls (out of print)
Hanging With The Balls – The Balls (out of print)
The Calm Years – Storm Inc. (out of print)
Storm and Her Dirty Mouth (out of print)
Big Daddy Large – FlowerSF (out of print)
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- Download print quality (high-res) version (Right Click -> Save As)
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Storm Large Live Review
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Storm Large’s show isn’t straight comedy, nor is it a regular music gig or even a one-note cabaret e...Storm Large’s show isn’t straight comedy, nor is it a regular music gig or even a one-note cabaret experience. Large defies categorisation. It’s a rock gig with wit in abundance –in the banter in between tracks, in the chat that breaks out halfway through a song and within the lines of the songs themselves.
She has sass in spades and an extraordinary life story from which to draw upon. Her biography reads like a misery memoir, epitomising the notion that a fucked-up upbringing inspires the best art. Large’s mother was severely depressed, Large herself was then diagnosed with mental illness apparently largely based on that dubious logic that because her mother was ill she would be too. Large became a heroin addict, but was saved by music and Pat Benatar.
So what of the oeuvre that has grown out of this painful life? Well, it’s akin to listening to early PJ Harvey or Courtney Love in her Hole heyday. The songs are visceral and raw, particularly those that deal with depression such as Call Me Crazy. But they’re also greatly humorous – a lover she dumped but who has the audacity to be OK is admonished in the refrain I Wish You Would Die. Elsewhere it’s often celebratory too particularly in the anthem (My Vagina) Is 8 Miles Wide (Not Literally, Silly). Needless to say it’s a frank performance.
Large is compelling to watch, a naturally mesmerising, electric performer. And despite all the angst in her life she’s a joyful presence to spend an hour with. A skilled wordsmith too, though much of her dialogue is unashamedly sweary she has a great way with descriptions and depictions. One particular favourite was analogy of the state of her 41-year-old uterus as being like the dusty, haunted room in which she’s playing in the Underbelly.
Date of live review: Wednesday 25th Aug, '10
Review by Marissa Burgess
Concert review: Pink Martini, Storm Large and Oregon Symphony are a winning combination
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The duet "Get Happy/Happy Days Are Here Again" was probably the last thing anyone expected Sunday, a...The duet "Get Happy/Happy Days Are Here Again" was probably the last thing anyone expected Sunday, a day of somber remembrance in honor of the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. But you don't expect funeral dirges from Pink Martini, and the band's electric performance with the Oregon Symphony, the opener of a three-concert series, was a bracing tonic at the end of a day of mourning.
It's worth remembering that the 1929 "Happy Days," adopted by Franklin Roosevelt's 1932 presidential campaign, became an anthem of sorts for the country as it emerged from the Great Depression, so hearing it Sept.11 seemed appropriate, even defiant.
The charismatic Storm Large is subbing for Pink Martini's lead vocalist China Forbes, who is recovering from vocal cord surgery -- she's fine and will return to singing soon, founder and frontman Thomas Lauderdale assured the audience -- and a greater contrast is hard to imagine. Forbes is a gamine chanteuse with naive nuances; Large is a statuesque, seductive stage presence whose powerful pipes paint the back wall of the nosebleed section at Schnitzer Hall, even when she's taking on lyrics in Spanish, Croatian, Turkish and French. Like Lauderdale, she's a dynamo, and even her breathy whispers grabbed listeners by the lapels Sunday night in "Amado Mio," "Quizas Quizas Quizas" and an adapted-for-Portland version of "The Lady is a Tramp."
Her duet partner in "Happy Days," the Judy Garland to her Barbra Streisand, was NPR's White House correspondent Ari Shapiro. Given that this is Portland and that Shapiro is an NPR A-lister, the audience would have loved him if he looked like Garrison Keillor and sounded like Carl Kasell, but -- who knew?- -- he was handsome, suave and a terrific performer with a smooth, strong baritone voice. (Large joked that they'd been told they look like wedding-cake figurines together, whereupon Shapiro obligingly joined her in a pose to prove it.) On top of several duets, he fearlessly stepped up to a couple of solos including a soulful version of Ernesto Lecuona's "Yo Te Quiero Siempre."
Alongside the vocalists -- who also included Timothy Nishimoto in a blistering version of "Donde Estas, Yolanda?," and even conductor Carlos Kalmar, in a duet with Large -- was the Oregon Symphony and the band itself, of course. Trumpeter Gavin Bondy, trombonist Robert Taylor, guitarist Dan Faehnle and cellist Pansy Chang were among several Pink Martini members who provided hot contributions to a typically tight and high-energy performance.
The 9/11 anniversary wasn't left out of the program entirely, either: Rep. Earl Blumenauer appeared with a short address, and the Pacific Youth Choir's chamber choir joined in for Mozart's setting of "Ave Verum" and the great New York song "New Amsterdam," by one of its greatest street performers, Louis Hardin, better known as Moondog.
But quiet reflection wasn't the order of the evening, and the young singers returned to lead a conga line through the orchestra section at the end of the show and then join Emilio Delgado from "Sesame Street" in that show's "Sing a Song."
For this band, too much is never enough
The show continues with performances Monday and Tuesday night. For ticket information, go to OrSymphony.org or the symphony ticket office at 923 S.W. Washington.
-- James McQuillen
A musical memoir with bawdy tales
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Storm Large is absolutely gorgeous, what with her mile-long legs, blonde locks and cherubic face. Bu...Storm Large is absolutely gorgeous, what with her mile-long legs, blonde locks and cherubic face. But I think she expects us to be shocked with all her talk about fisting. The American rock chick will learn that Fringe audiences have a high capacity for smut and they’ll need it to cope with the sexual frankness in Storm Large’s musical memoir. After a difficult childhood and a period of drug-use, Large turned to music, fronting various bands and releasing several albums until TV reality show Rock Star: Supernova and a spell in Cabaret opened up her acting choices.
Crazy Enough runs like an Off-Broadway musical. The generous number of songs are culled from recent albums with some covers thrown in, rock-flavoured and melodic with cleanly delivered filthy lyrics. She’s in her element when rocking the stage, with a soulful, versatile voice and a hard-as-nails persona. She hits the comedy notes too, joining the dots between songs with potty-mouthed tales of tragedy and misadventure countered with a fierce vindication of her life.
It’s a polished affair as Large rarely deviates from the script. With a full band and amps cranked high, the concert vibe and slick production negate the possibility of an intimate confessional. It seems strange to criticise a show for being too professional, but thankfully the entertainment doesn’t suffer; on the night of the review the audience enjoyed it enough to bestow a standing ovation. Large advocates a ‘fuck ‘em all’ attitude but after climaxing the show with a barnstorming number she dedicates a lullaby to her late mother. A beautiful song, it wraps up the narrative nicely but plays into the conventions Large has just denounced. It seems the shock rocker doesn’t want to offend after all.
Underbelly, 08445 458 252, until 29 Aug (not 16, 24), 10.25pm, £10.50–£12.50 (£6.50–£11).
RAW: Cabaret Festival – Storm Large – 4.5K
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Having come off the (auto)biographical accounts of Charles Sanders in the Cabaret Fringe, one was pe...Having come off the (auto)biographical accounts of Charles Sanders in the Cabaret Fringe, one was perhaps unprepared for another dose, this time by the ‘sexually omnivorous’ American Storm Large in the Cabaret festival itself. Not sure too many of the audience were but they sure as hell got their money’s worth.
Starting out ‘sweet’ as she described it, Ms Large then turned up the pace with her three piece band, The Balls, rattling the Space’s cage. In equal measure, loud, sexy, a passionista, seductive and appalling – her reasons for delighting in nature specials on TV great fun – Storm delighted with a tribute to ONJ of her Hopelessly Devoted To You that somewhat dismantled the girl next door image we may have retained of ‘our’ Olivia after her opening night concert.
Her Pat Benatar rendition of Heart Breaker was a highlight and many of the pout numbers would have put Cher to shame. Her signature song, 8 Miles Wide rounds off a great show.
But to be sure this is a carefully crafted show. It never descends into girlie bar slease or wallows in rock’s excesses and throughout (and despite a colourful history with drugs), Large ensured we knew she possesses a wonderful voice that can convey true emotion and delight amongst the verses that thrashed it out.
This was great entertainment, good escapist fun but with talent to spare.
Storm Large Crazy Enough
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There were some unusual expressions on the faces of the audience last night. The audiences at most o...There were some unusual expressions on the faces of the audience last night. The audiences at most of the cabaret shows have been older and it is possible that the blurb in the programme didn’t indicate exactly what people might expect from Storm Large. In the guide it sounded like an introspective cabaret show from a Vegas glamazon, about living in the shadow of her mothers mental health issues. There is a tiny warning at the bottom of her guide listing (Suitable for audiences 18+ contains strong language and adult themes) but it’s so small the aging Cabaret audience wouldn’t have seen it in with their bi-focals. But I think I can safely say most were not prepared for a storm quite this large.
Things start cabarety enough. A three piece band take their positions and then six foot bombshell Storm takes the stage dressed in black shimmering skin-tight pants, rocker boots and a plunging neckline. The first song Call Me Crazy is a waltz, allowing Large to show the power in her voice and give us a tiny taste of her stage presence. She starts to tell her story about how she was told at nine years old she would end up with similar mental health issues as her mother. So second song in Throw Away the Key, is a wonderful off-kilter piano driven journey in the fear of being crazy. The volume has risen to full rock band levels and the first swearing of the night has arrived. A quick glance round the room shows facial expressions ranging from fear to delight, but there are a lot of mouths agape and eyebrows raised. Because it has to be said Storm Large is an astounding presence on the stage. And that voice. She can smoulder like a chanteuse and then she lets fly with one of the most powerful rock voices I have ever heard in my life and have you pinned to the back wall with its intensity.
“I realise I haven’t seen you guys before Adelaide, and you haven’t seen me, so this is like a first date. So we’ll see how we get on and see I will fuck you after the show or not.”
Four songs in and she talks about how her discovery of masturbation, and love of wildlife documentaries weren’t mutually exclusive and how at sixteen she came to understand her sexuality gave her some potent power over men. The story before Put It in Pull It Out is a shocking one, as is the song itself. Searching for love and being confident in her sexuality are portrayed with great potency. An amazing version of Stay with Me (Rod Stewart & The Faces) leads a trio of great songs of obsession. I Want You to Die am a burning declaration of intent to an ex. But it is her reading of Olivia Newton Johns Grease classic Hopelessly Devoted to You that really kills. Turning Sandy’s playground love song into a smouldering, obsessive almost stalker intent screamer, is just brilliant.
Inside Outside is a cry for help and love. She is saved by Pat Benatar, not in person, but by being asked to sing Heartbreaker with a bar band. Her re-enactment of that first experience on stage and the wild and ecstatic release it gave her is euphoric and quickly leads to a thump back to earth with her descent into heroin addiction. It’s a shocking story told with some bluntness “Then he left the band so I started fucking the bass player, then we got a new guitar player and I started fucking him, but he got sacked and started fucking the new guitar player…”. This is not regular Cabaret Festival in between song banter.
What the fuck is Lady Like
If Lady Like means do what the fuck you like
Her single from her time with US reality TV show Rockstar Supernova is a frantic, angry rock chick anthem and a highlight of this show. It’s followed by The Pixies Where Is My Mind? A perfect song of reflection about the state she’d arrived in. But the realization that everybody is crazy in their own ways is liberating. She shows that she is comfortable in who she is, regardless of what anybody else has to say about it, with the fantastic sing-a-long 8 Miles Wide. By now this stage almost everybody is won over by this brassy, sassy and sexy amazon with the potty mouth and the powerhouse voice. So we all sing along.
“My vagina is eight miles wide
Absolutely everyone can come inside
And if you get frightened you can run and hide
My vagina is eight miles wide”
She returns to the stage to thunderous applause. The date has gone well according to Storm. So we will be getting lucky after the show. She finishes with The Lullaby Song. Written for her mother, who died earlier this year. It is simple and beautiful and reminds us there is more to this Storm than thunder and lightning.
A must see at this Cabaret Festival – Storm Large is fantastic.
Storm Large plays at The Space Theatre on June 24 & 25 at 9:30pm. There is one show in Sydney at The Vanguard (Newtown) on Wednesday June 29th at 6:30pm and one in Melbourne at Red Bennies on Chapel Street on Thursday June 31.
Call Me Crazy
Throw Away the Key
Put It in Pull It Out
Stay With Me
I Want You to Die
Hopelessly Devoted To You
Where Is My Mind?
8 Miles Wide
The Lullaby Song
Storm Large - Crazy Enough
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EdinburghGuide » Edinburgh's Festivals » Festival 2010 Reviews Storm Large - Crazy Enough By Eua...EdinburghGuide » Edinburgh's Festivals » Festival 2010 Reviews
Storm Large - Crazy Enough
By Euan Andrews - Posted on 27 August 2010
A statuesque blonde Amazon prowls onto the small stage under the low dingy Underbelly ceiling, decked out in standard rock chick issue leggings and biker boots. With her seasoned band of muso dudes behind her, she crashes into a furious angst-filled number while pulling every available rockstar pose. Blonde hair flying, head banging and legs splayed, tonight is surely going to see Storm Large kick some serious rocking ass.
Then, once the opening song finishes, she launches into a hysterically filthy anecdote about how many severed penises she keeps in boxes under her bed before revealing that when she was a young girl she liked to masturbate to Discovery Channel footage of animals killing each other. Uh, OK. It’s fair to say you don’t get that at a Pink show.
Storm Large (“Yes, it’s my real name. Not my pornstar name. Not my stripper name.”) comes from Portland, Oregon and, following a brief sojourn into reality TV in the States with Rockstar Supernova, has veered away from straight forward rocking out into a show which details the more scurrilous and insane episodes of her life interspersed with songs, both self-penned and covered. Frankly, it could be awful, but Storm is such an awesome and larger than life personality that you end up loving every second she’s up there. This woman is aflame on stage and she has an intimate way with crowds, meaning she knows she can tell us ANYTHING. Her songs aren’t half bad, either.
Whether she’s singing raw-throated blues on a raggedy version of The Faces’ “Stay With Me” or describing in almost anatomically graphic detail how she lost her virginity at the age of 13 to a hot-shot lawyer, the audience just love her. She’s like your nasty but adored sister who gets you drunk and forces you to stay up late.
She also clearly revels and indeed triumphs in the personal damage within her life. Comparing the concept of love to an overwhelming desire to kill a sweet newborn puppy, she then announces she has written the Greatest Love Song Ever. It’s a rousing sing-along called “I Want You To Die”. It sounds pretty much spot on, to be honest.
While Storm extracts maximum humour from some devastating incidents in her personal life, at some points the laughs go quiet as the show begins to resemble a confessional in an LA rock bar. Her mother’s mental illness, which blighted her childhood, and the heroin addiction into which she plunged with an ex-boyfriend are recounted in quite chilling detail. But this seems to be the whole point of the show, that it’s the pain in our lives which ultimately forms us into what we become.
By the end of her hour, climaxing with an uplifting anthem of empowerment and self-belief called “My Vagina Is Eight Miles Wide”, Storm has us eating out of her hand. The audience whoop and cheer as she leaves the stage. Hard to believe we only just met sixty minutes earlier, here “…under the bridge”. It feels like waving goodbye to our new best friend.
Till 29 August,10.25pm
Storm Large: An Intimate Evening with a Woman Your Mom Warned You About
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Metropolitan Room – August 31, 2011 The aptly named Storm Large blew through town the week afte...Metropolitan Room – August 31, 2011
The aptly named Storm Large blew through town the week after Hurricane Irene's brush with Manhattan. She touched ground at the Metropolitan Room, where she gusted for an hour or so at winds reaching at least 150 miles per hour.
Large doesn't stage the kind of cabaret act you see every day. I haven't experienced a fraction of what some of my Bistro Awards colleagues have experienced at the Metropolitan Room. But I'll bet that they never beheld the spectacle of the diva du jour bringing a female audience member onto the stage, turning her over her knee and administering a lascivious birthday spanking while the crowd raucously counted out each stroke. The swats stopped at a mere 15, although the spank-ee was clearly beyond her teenage years. Storm knows when to leave her audience—and, presumably, her game birthday celebrants—wanting more.
The tall Portland, Oregon-based singer made her entrance holding what appeared to be a goblet of red wine (she later ordered a martini from the stage) and wearing a full-length red gown that exposed much of her bare back and the large tattoo emblazoned thereon. She said she was used to playing in dives, that the room seemed amazingly clean, and that she wasn't sure that the staff knew what they were getting into when they engaged her for a one-night-stand. Proudly profane and gawky, she clearly got mileage out of her bull-in-a-China-shop situation.
Large has an enormous gale-like voice, obviously suited for rock and blues. She led, though, with a dreamily romantic song that she said she'd recently written, called "Buy the Moon." ("All the songs are true, those sappy songs," the lyrics told us.) Caterwauling may be a Storm Large specialty, but from the outset of her set, she showed that she is capable of considerable nuance and range.
She followed with a couple of standards, beginning with "I've Got You Under My Skin." Perhaps inspired by some of the pop-singing variations on Cole Porter's work in the 2004 film De-Lovely, Large kept Porter's lyrics, but set them to a winding alternative melody that emphasized the obsessive side of love (a recurring theme throughout the evening). The bridge of the song turned angry—no, hostile—until Large reached the word "stop" in the line "the thought of you makes me stop before I begin." That magic word snapped her back into meandering-moan gear. Large has apparently mapped out her performances with the detail-oriented diligence of an art-song singer.
Kander & Ebb's "Maybe This Time" from Cabaret came next. (Large played Sally Bowles in a Portland Center Stage production in 2007.) She prefaced the performance by remarking that although she once scoffed at traditional show music, she has since learned to respect it. Her straightforward performance worked for the most part, but her rocker's technique emerged in the final stretch of the song, which was jarring for those like me who hold the Liza Minnelli rendition as the standard. Bellowing is not quite the same thing as belting.
The show grew rowdier as the evening progressed. It hardly seemed that Large needed to let her hair down mid-show—but she did, both figuratively and literally. Shaking out a blond tangle, she asked, "Do I look like a Stepford wife at a key party?"
As a native Oregonian, I've heard Portland friends rave about Large for years, and I've heard some of her recordings, notably her pro-sex feminist anthem, "8 Miles Wide" ("My vagina is 8 miles wide/ Absolutely everyone can come inside"). As her show spun along, I found I liked much of what she did, but she didn't totally win me over until late in the program, with another pair of songs about obsessive love. On Elvis Costello's "I Want You," she explored the madness of physical longing as her collaborator James Beaton thrashed on the piano. She looked (and sometimes almost sounded) like Linda Blair / Mercedes McCambridge battling exorcist Max von Sydow, until she all but dropped into a depleted heap. And then, with "Hopelessly Devoted to You" (John Farrar) from Grease, she deconstructed and ridiculed the passions she'd just mined. It was like going to a production of Medea and then sticking around for the similarly themed satyr play.
Toward the end of the show, Large sang some appetite-whetting numbers from her autobiographical one-woman show, Crazy Enough (including "8 Miles Wide"). The show is overdue for an off-Broadway run. (Large's outdated Wikipedia page says that such an engagement is scheduled for spring 2011.) If the enthusiasm of the audience at the Metropolitan Room was a good indicator, Crazy Enough would be a hot New York ticket indeed.
Storm Large – Crazy Enough
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5 stars Storm Large is distracting. She distracts by telling the room this is like our first dat...5 stars
Storm Large is distracting. She distracts by telling the room this is like our first date, and that she’s debating whether to finger us or not. She distracts with snippets of autobiography, talking about the doctor who told her she was doomed to go crazy, just like her mother, and about the heroin addiction she embarked upon to serve as a bad example to her lover. She distracts with explicit tales of her teenage sexploits, and her love of masturbation. She distracts us by looking like the impossible love child of Charlize Theron and Sophie Dahl.
But don’t be distracted. As the most perfectly-named woman in the world tears the air with her screeches, whispers, growls, rasps and whistles, the truth shines through: she’s a damn fine musician. You have to be an exceptional singer to howl one minute and croon the next, to sing it high and sing it low without ever once losing control. That amazing voice goes where she wants it, when she wants it. I suspect she has the same effect on her lovers.
The show’s about every kind of crazy, so most of her self-penned songs circled that theme but she stayed on the right side of repetitiveness. She belted out a scary version of Stay With Me that underscored the lyrics’ dark misogyny, forcing a rethink. She tore through a version of Heartbreaker so damn heartfelt that I succumbed, utterly, and I can’t stand Pat Benatar, though vocally she’s a good comparison, as are Heart’s Wilson sisters.
There wasn’t a dull moment in this hour, but the highlight surely had to be her life-affirming redemption anthem My Vagina is Eight Miles Wide – it’s a metaphor, boys, so sing along too – an anthem so magnificently bold, and so infectiously catchy, that I’m still humming it days later. At the end, the audience shot to its feet and threatened to rush the stage and smother her in “vigantic” love. Now I know what they mean by a perfect storm!
Comedy review: Storm Large – Crazy Enough
By LEE RANDALL
Storm Large, Metropolitan Room
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Storm Large is a potent and charismatic performer who catches your attention and never lets it go. ...Storm Large is a potent and charismatic performer who catches your attention and never lets it go. As far as the show’s title goes, my mother never warned me about women, so, happily, there were no pangs of guilt appreciating this lovely, lively and sometimes licentious female performer in the lipstick-red satin floor-length gown.
Several of her songs, quite well done, were written by Large herself and, although apparently familiar to much of her jam-packed audience, not so to me. Nevertheless, one thing was clear from the very start: this vocalist has a vision all her own and even familiar songs did not echo the tried and true versions you might have heard enough times to whistle in your sleep. Her take, for example, on Cole Porter’s “I’ve Got You Under My Skin” gave us a slow, tortured woman agonizing with both the passion and the frustration of her emotions. When Large sang, “Don't you know, little fool, you never can win,” it was an excruciating admission to us and to herself that seemed to wrack her very body and soul. And, on a non-familiar track, in a song where the devastated singer has lost her former lover to another woman, the audience enthusiastically joined in on the refrain: “I want you to die.”
Few cabaret performers are as continually theatrical, both with their emotions and their body language as Storm Large. Often, eyes closed and arms outstretched in a plea, she seemed lost in the reverie of her song. Her passion proved magnetic. Understandably, the intensity of her expressions and her physical responses to her songs (“I like songs that are about love, and how it can go terribly, terribly wrong”) often diverted one’s awareness from the excellence of her versatile – from a whisper to a belt – and pleasing voice.
Storm Large is someone to watch. She is compelling, fascinating and almost uniquely unconventional. Have you ever been to a cabaret performance where someone in the audience is brought on stage to be spanked to celebrate her birthday? Yes, it happened. And though some of the banter used raw language more usually heard in comedy rooms, it failed to disturb her listeners and seemed more her everyday vernacular than used for shock value. Possibly regrettably, these days it’s nothing that would startle any junior high school student anywhere in the country.
Storm Large’s performance was a one-shot at the Metropolitan Room. Hopefully, they’ll have her back. She’s a winner, and too many folks on the waiting list couldn’t get in.
Theater review: Storm Large's story is poignant, painful
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When the lights go up on Storm Large at the start of "Crazy Enough," the one-woman show about her li...When the lights go up on Storm Large at the start of "Crazy Enough," the one-woman show about her life premiering at Portland Center Stage, this hyper-hyped, larger-than-life local sensation stands alone on a bare stage.
"Call me crazy, 'cause I am," she sings, not in the big rocker voice she's famous for but in a honeyed whisper. Pausing a moment, she quietly adds, "And alive ... and alive."
Wait a minute, you want to say, isn't this the show where a 6-foot sensual goddess of raunch-rock dishes about her days of sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll? The one where she talks about her fear of ending up like her crazy mother and rocks us with the salacious details of her many adventures?
Where's the punch? The "zowie"?
Well, the answer comes, it's all here. In sometimes painful, sometimes humorous detail. But what this show is really about is staying alive. Being alive. And, corny as it might sound, living fully in this moment.
In a show that's part cabaret, part confessional and part comedy, Large delivers the advertised: not only a huge, supple voice but plenty of attitude and dirty disclosures, too. As she takes her audience on her gritty journey, however -- through childhood visits with her mother in a dreary mental institution or a bleary night of broken dreams in the thrall of heroin -- she does much more: She shows what it takes sometimes just to survive.
What's remarkable here is not the sensational detail -- the dinner concoction of chicken soup, oatmeal and Calgonite soap her mother serves while high on Thorazine, or the underage sexual encounter with a 30-year-old man -- but the vulnerability in the telling.
The honesty laced with humor and in-your-face toughness that keep self-pity at bay.
Mixing her past with pithy comments and a rich slate of deeply personal (and often surprisingly gentle) songs, Large reveals the hopes against odds of an unprepared girl and the fears of a woman using bravado to hide the human flailing inside.
More remarkable still is the presence she brings to the stage -- both her command of an audience (nurtured in years of singing in clubs with her band, the Balls) and her ability to be completely present throughout her performance.
This presence is most evident when she sings the show's dozen songs (most of which she co-wrote with bandmate James Beaton, who plays piano behind her, along with Jim Brunberg on guitar and Scott Weddle on drums).
Dressed in butch-looking pants and black boots, she zips and unzips a gray hoodie over a thin teal tank top to reflect the level of exposure in the songs. But what's most revealing is the way she loses herself in a song. After describing the moment she learns of her mother's death, for example, she melts into a lullaby that turns her visibly back into a child.
PCS artistic director Chris Coleman has been accused of favoring sensationalism over quality, including his choosing of Large over veteran actors to play Sally Bowles in "Cabaret" last season. If her impressive performance then didn't change perceptions, her commanding performance this time should. Without Coleman's coaxing, assurance and sensitive directing, this show would never have made it to the stage. And Portland would be poorer for it.
Gritty as "Crazy Enough" can be, it's no Courtney Love show. Nor does its poignancy make it an after-school special. What it is, if it's anything definable, is an empowering look at how one outsize woman has managed, despite repeated heartaches and screw-ups, to stay aware of the preciousness of life.
Nothing expresses this better than a song called "8 Miles Wide," a song that encourages girls not to shrink from life but to embrace their Large-ness: "For all of us girls who don't fit in," she sings, "I say go Amazonian." The song is so infectious and inspiring, it might have become a staple at girl empowerment rallies ... except that many of the lyrics are too graphic to be quoted here.
"Life isn't safe," Large says near the show's end. "It isn't always quiet. And it certainly isn't small."
Michael McGregor is a Portland freelance writer; email@example.com
By Michael McGregor, Special to the Oregonian
April 06, 2009 08:02AM
Review: Storm Large in 'Crazy Enough'
[+ Show ]
It was opening Saturday and the room was packed full of PCS subscribers and the few lucky enough to ...It was opening Saturday and the room was packed full of PCS subscribers and the few lucky enough to score tickets. Fans from as far as Boston and all over the US were in the audience supporting Storm, and she playfully bantered with them, by name, before the show started.
A plus, the venue’s tiny: Gus Van Sant sat literally 11 feet away. You can’t get a bad seat, and even if you’re not stage front, Storm runs through the audience at one point. You’ll probably be closer to Storm here than at any concert of hers you’ve gone to.
Haunting, powerful, perfect vocals; nobody should be able to sing like that. It’s too good. You’re going to get your face melted when she starts belting and the lights go flashing and the audience is going wild. Storm wrote a whole new album for this show, better and perhaps even dirtier than “Ladylike: Side One”. (they sell copies in the lobby, buy one.)
Storm is backed by three very talented musicians, including James Beaton, from Storm and the Balls and Everclear, Scott Weddle, a Portland music staple, and Jim Brunberg, who co-owns Mississippi Studios.
This girl, this woman, this beautiful Glamazon, is so open, so honest, so forward, so freaking raw. Crazy Enough is an autopsy, a brutal exploration of Storm’s guts. She covers the very things people hide far away and later grow ulcers over, from dealing with (and avoiding) the pain and drama associated with having a certifiably crazy mom to the everyday hardships of simply growing up a kid who’s a little too loud, big, and not named Sarah.
Storm tells her story in confidence; you’re here to share her secret. It’s a little humbling.
Occasionally you’re going to laugh your ass off. You’re going to be offended, perhaps a little “glistening in your swim suit area”, when she starts taking her clothes off, riled up (that girl’s got a mouth on her) and when you travel with Storm and her brother down the halls of the psycho ward, you’re going to be choking back tears.
In the lobby after the show, a fan approached Storm. Storm was explaining her difficulty with the show. “…spilling your guts out on stage?” the fan asked, “No. I’ve always done that. It’s the sad sh*t…who cares?”
Yes, you’re going to witness some unpretty sides of Storm (at one point we join her for a night in Heroin Hell), and you’re going to hear and see things that make your insides churn, your face burn and your throat swell. For example, the song, “My Vagina is 8 Miles Wide”, which is a strong-woman anthem, and in true Storm form, both naughtily raunchy and empowering.
You need to see this show. Your friend needs to see this show. Your mom, dad, grandma, sister, and kind of weird kid down the street needs to see this show. Fans love Storm because she gives so much of herself, and not just her voice, it’s her. Storm’s story is so real, so right-now for teens, parents, and anyone experiencing the past, present, and future crazy in life. This show is for anyone who’s ever questioned their own sanity, who just need to know that yeah, you might be three shades of wacko and getting through each day is a miracle, but make it work for you. Storm certainly does.
Like a romp with your therapist, you’ll leave with a little validation, a little commiseration, and surprisingly refreshed.
Review: Storm Large in ‘Crazy Enough’ | Portland Center Stage
April 6, 2009 — PDXPIPELINE
By Stephanie El Hajj
Crazy Enough: Storm Large takes PCS by...well...storm
[+ Show ]
Last week at Portland Center Stage, things were a bit bittersweet. Just as news leaked out that they...Last week at Portland Center Stage, things were a bit bittersweet. Just as news leaked out that they had “let go” their entire literary department (including Literary Manager Mead Hunter), Storm Large’s one-woman autobiographical show Crazy Enough was finally premiering in the Ellen Bye Studio. And while many within the Portland theatre scene were worried, angry or frustrated about the former, the latter was an occasion that left many of us feeling like Christmas had come early.
After months of workshops, re-writes and rehearsals, Large took the stage Friday night in a surprisingly stripped-down fashion. No booming announcement, no dress-cut-down-to-there, no drum roll. Just Storm.
Those of us who have watched Large rise from a cult star in the Portland clubs to a household name on reality TV’s Rockstar: Supernova know that she is a consummate entertainer. She’s brassy, sexy, and funny and oh yeah, the girl’s got pipes. The funny thing is, whether she’s playing to a packed house at Dante’s or to a sea of fans standing shoulder to shoulder in a warehouse, she somehow makes you feel as if she is sitting in your lap, tickling your ear with her breath. She’s engaging, yes, but it’s more than just that. Storm is like the opening riff of “Foxy Lady.” She’s the burlesque piano line in David Bowie’s “Time.” She is the bassline in “Come As You Are.” When she’s on the mic, she is everything you want her to be: Vulnerable, flirtatious and unabashed. It’s just that most of us never questioned why.
Crazy Enough is an impressive, funny and sad glimpse into the life that made Large so much larger than life. The songs that are sprinkled throughout the two-act show (co-written by Large and The Balls band member James Beaton) are delivered with the chanteuse’s signature panache. Some of them are bawdy, rock-heavy nods to her career of late; some of them are so heartbreakingly tender, you forget that she’s known for the hits “What The F*ck is Ladylike?” and “Where is My Mind?”.
Much of the show focuses on Large’s troubled relationship with her mentally ill mother, like the moment when she recalls her five-year-old fear of having a caused a relapse in her mother’s psychiatric health by being “too loud,” and makes a pact to be as silent as possible. Always more of a shrieking violet than a shrinking one, Large was a kid who probably thrived on noise and kinetic energy. So, your heart breaks when she then recalls driving her mother to tears and sobs of, “Stormy hates me!” because instead of greeting her with the usual flurry of screams and excitement, she twitches quietly in the corner, wanting to cry out, but terrified of crashing through her mother’s tenuous moments of sanity.
Little by little, you begin to understand how little Stormy grew into what she is today. She is never maudlin as she explains how pain, heartache and fear were pushed aside for sex, drugs, gallows humor and (eventually) rock and roll. The show never feels heavy handed or preachy, despite the fact that the message of survival is clear. In one of the songs most popular (and infectious) songs, “8 Miles Wide,” she sings, “I am enormous. Get used to it. Everyone tells me I’m too much. Maybe it’s just you’re not enough.”
Large has knocked it out of the park here, finally crushing any post-TV whispers of her being just a flash-in-the-pan. With all the bawdiness, talent and charisma of a young Bette Midler and a personality that is both unapologetic and endearing, Large proves that she is destined to be one of the most electrifying performers of her time.
By Hollyanna McCollom
Interview: Storm Large
[+ Show ]
The unofficial first lady of Portland, actress, activist and shock rocker Storm Large chews over her...The unofficial first lady of Portland, actress, activist and shock rocker Storm Large chews over her past with Kate Copstick, explaining how she moved from an all-you-can-eat teen sex buffet to organic quinoa
Outside the Wonder Ballroom in Portland, Oregon, the queue is already round the block. Inside, the soundcheck is done, a large stack of photos is signed. Downstairs, the whole, gorgeous, honey-coloured, barefoot two yards of Storm Large is curled in a chair, looking like some supercharged cross between Kim Cattrall and Jane Krakowski. She is scribbling a set list on a scrap of paper. "Asshole? We should do Asshole," she says, looking for confirmation from the band. The band nods. "It's new," she tells Elan, her producer. "You'll like it!"
Not so long ago, Elan had never heard of Storm Large, much less be interested in her Asshole. But a friend had gone to see Storm do her searingly autobiographical one-woman show, Crazy Enough, and, at half-time, called Elan and told her she had to come to see her. She did. Now the two are heading for Off Broadway, via Edinburgh. Neither Elan nor Storm has done anything off Broadway before. But as Elan has previously produced Rent, Hairspray and Spamalot, and currently has Green Day's American Idiot to her credit, Ms Large's theatrical future is in safe hands.
The first thing you should probably know is that, yes, Storm Large is her real name. She was called after a friend of her mother's in Southborough, in rural Massachusetts, where she was born and raised. She was six feet tall by the time she was 13, and not only 'large' but also fairly stormy. Unsurprising, when you hear that her mother suffered major psychiatric problems for all of Storm's childhood and made frequent suicide attempts. At the age of nine, Storm was informed by her mother's doctor that the schizophrenia was hereditary and that Storm herself would develop it in her teens or twenties. She grew up, she says, with the promised 'craziness' hanging over her like a sword of Damocles and "believing no-one loved me". Small wonder, then, that her first childhood ambition was to be a werewolf. But she was always singing and telling stories, and wrote her first song - an ode to Snickers bars - when she was five. Her earliest musical influences came from the family eight-track and were Jesus Christ Superstar, Johnny Cash and John Denver.
Now there is a crisis in the basement. Opening Blossom, Storm's vegan take-away of choice, has only sent three Goddess Salads and a Goddess Bowl instead of four. Yes, there is one with soya curls and one with tofu but where is the Live Wrap? I kid you not. There is also something that looks suspiciously like someone has thrown up into a recycled cardboard container. It is dessert, I am assured.
I am sitting with a woman who spent decades self-medicating her sadness with sex (Storm is "opportunistically omnivorous" and got an early start on life's sexual 'all-you-can-eat' buffet at 13) and drugs ("heroin makes you feel like you're loved and everything is fine," she once said) and baaaaaad behaviour, and now I am sharing roast organic beets and soya curls, while she enthuses over organic quinoa. My timing is so bad.
Storm went from Massachussetts, through the New York Academy of Performing Arts where, she says, "I learned I was a better musician than an actor" (having said which, she more recently played Sally Bowles to great critical acclaim in Portland), to San Francisco, with her then partner.
In 2002 she came to Portland, a gloriously eclectic place where they have bumper stickers pleading "Keep Portland Weird". I am sure Storm is doing her best. She left behind both her partner and her heroin habit, and planned to train as a chef (it wasn't always just Goddess stuff), but was soon persuaded back to music, becoming Portland's adored rock diva. A cult. An icon. And more.
In 2006 she did to the whole of the USA what she'd been doing to Portland in CBS's reality-rock show, Rock Star Supernova, leaving her with Dave Navarro and Tommy Lee as big fans, and Ellen DeGeneres and Howard Stern begging her to do their shows. Her debut single, Ladylike, entered the Billboard Charts at number five and was number one in Iceland for six weeks. Yes, Storm Large is even hot in Iceland. At the beginning of the year, new mayor Sam Adams decreed her the 'unofficial first lady of Portland'.
She chews on something spindly and green, pondering: "I am leaving Portland and Seattle where everybody loves me and I sell out every show, to come to Edinburgh ... you might say that is proof positive of the craziness." I couldn't possibly comment. Now she is wondering about putting the 'Hot Sauce' story into tonight's show. Storm's life, it transpires, is packed tighter than Tommy Lee's jeans with hilarious anecdote. Hot Sauce involves activity that would only be edited out of this newspaper, so you'll have to see the show.
Storm's MD, James, has a mouthful of something chewily organic as she regales us with the details. As she reaches the ... how can I put this? ... climax of the story, he swallows. "Oh God," he mutters. "That totally voids our contract."
Somehow - not that I am complaining - we get on to the subject of Storm's breasts. They are not entirely organic, and she is very proud of them. She shows them off. If I had breasts like that, I too would be very proud of them. She was writing an advice column for a sex magazine some years ago and discovered that all the strippers with the fabulous frontages had gone to the same doctor. So she went too. She still gets, she says, a deal of flak about the op. "I had lesbians coming up to me telling me I was destroying my goddess body. I would look at them and they had so many f***ing piercings in their face they looked like a goddam tackle box - jangling at me with their bullshit." Yet Storm does a lot for the girls. And boys. She is a vocal activist for gay rights, at the forefront of Basic Rights Oregon, advocating for equal marriage rights for the gay community and the acknowledged 'mascot' of the Red Dress ball.
Now she is wondering how much of the full stage show Crazy Enough to put into her Edinburgh hour. She is very aware that her 10:25pm time slot doesn't lend itself to deep introspection, so expect a lot of the funny stuff, as well as some awesome music.
"People either want to have sex with me or hear me sing, they don't want to hear about my unhappy childhood," she once said. Take it from me, by 10:35pm you will want to do all three.
• Storm Large: Crazy Enough is at the Underbelly, 10:25pm, until 29 August
By Kate Copstick
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