by Liz Miller
Har Mar Superstar | DJ Billy Brown May 7, 2013 The Firebird
The boilerplate description for Har Mar Superstar marries the looks of a young Ron Jeremy with the music and stage presence of something between R. Kelly, the Neptunes and Tony Clifton -- but really, all comparisons fall short. Har Mar Superstar is one-of-a-kind.
See Also: - Har Mar Superstar at the Firebird - Slideshow
His music has changed greatly since his first record, 2000's self-titled Har Mar Superstar, where stories about stupid girls, ass shaking and dissing Tommy Hilfiger clothes pulsate in clever, funk-infused rap and R&B music, complemented with a dancey stage show that culminates in him stripping down to his underwear. In the preceding thirteen years, Har Mar's -- real name Sean Tillmann -- music has evolved into something more neo-soul driven, with more Motown influence and less of that trademark striptease.
Last night he shook the Firebird (2706 Olive Street; 314-535-0353) with new songs from recent release Bye Bye 17, while dancing up a storm and performing floor gymnastics, mic in hand.
Before Har Mar took the stage, St. Louis' own DJ Billy Brown opened the show from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m. with a mixture of electronic and R&B music that primed the room for a dance party.
By 10:30 p.m. Har Mar was getting that dance party going, opening his set with "Body Request," arguably one of his best-known singles, from 2004's The Handler. Outfitted in a tribal-patterned hooded poncho layered over a light blue pinstriped leisure suit complete with frilly, ruffled dress shirt, he brought spectacle from the moment his feet hit the stage floor. If the spectacle is what catches your eye, it's his talent that keeps your attention.
If possible, his stage show has become that much more entertaining, even without the gradual shedding of clothes till he's dancing in his underwear, even without venturing into the audience and grinding on girls.
For an intimate-size room, Har Mar offered a selection of songs from Bye Bye 17, as well as older cuts and fan favorites, including "D.U.I.," "You Are The Sunshine in My Soul" and "Tall Boy" -- the last of which he wrote for Britney Spears, but chose to record himself after she passed on the song.
"I need a tall boy to crack it open with me/ Don't be shaking (pssst)/C'mon man, I'm thirsty," invites the song's chorus, "Where's my tall boy, to satisfy my needs?/I feel like drinking, so come on, get inside of me."
All things considered, it's a far superior song for Har Mar than Britney, especially since he's got way better moves.
For his encore, Har Mar performed the incomparable "Power Lunch," during which he performed and held a handstand while continuing to belt out the song, followed by a cover of the saddest song ever, G.C. Cameron's "It's So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday," but better known as Boyz II Men's greatest a cappella of all time. Before launching into the cover he offered a disclaimer to the crowd, explaining that his voice wasn't operating at 100 percent owing to "too much ecstasy."
That proved more misdirection than disclaimer, as he hit every peak and valley -- in a song with many of both -- along the way. When the chorus came in he encouraged the audience to sing along, and he tricked the crowd with no less than three false endings to the song, winding down that final note only to bring it around again for another final verse.
Har Mar Superstar's amazing music video for "Power Lunch."
Critic's Notebook: Personal Bias: The last time I saw Har Mar Superstar was in 2003 at the Gargoyle, when he opened for Aussie musician Ben Lee. Last night's show felt as much like being shot from a cannon as it did ten years ago. Random Detail: Where can I find a hooded poncho like the one Har Mar kicked off the show wearing? 'Cause that thing was perfection. Overheard: "This chick ruined the intimate Har Mar Superstar concert. I hope she dies a horrible death of solitude," Tweeted a fellow audience member in reaction to a loud, drunk fan who stood front row, screaming catcalls for most of the show.
Setlist: 1. Body Request 2. Girls Only 3. Lady, You Shot Me 4. Prisoner 5. D.U.I. 6. Everywhere I'm Local 7. Don't Ask Don't Tell 8. You Are The Sunshine in My Soul 9. Restless Leg 10. Wah Wah Wah 11. Tall Boy 12. Almond Joy
Encore: 13. Power Lunch 14. It's So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday (cover)
See also: - Ten Bands You Never Would Have Thought Used to Be Good - The Ten Biggest Concert Buzzkills: An Illustrated Guide - The 15 Most Ridiculous Band Promo Photos Ever - The Ten Worst Music Tattoos Ever