Storm Large became famous on the Internet in 2009 with her song called “(My Vagina Is) 8 Miles Wide.” Any song about the joy of sluttiness and empowering embodiment will instantly hook into my feminist sensibilities, but what makes this song even more awesome is the power of Storm Large as a vocalist and performer. She’s about six-feet-two-inches of tempestuous energy, with a rich voice, and a gigantic range, who pens songs that range from irreverent and funny (“Vagina” abovre), to heartfelt and hopeful (“Stand Up for Me”), to ominous and jaunty (“Throw Away the Key”), and brings the same deft force to the standards and rock ballads she covers. Her material, her range, her presence – everything about her music and performance makes me want to live and love openly, bravely, boldly.
We’ve seen so many trite performers with their attempt at a daring performance; countless pop stars with hypersexuality on display, punk bands with studded jackets or safety pins through their cheeks. For longtime music aficionados, a lot of rock and roll is trapped in its own cliches of rebellion to the extent that these rote expressions have become the rules. If you’re old, like me, you vaguely remember when punk was an outsider scene, and when piercings were still dangerous, and billionaire CEOs like Jack Dorsey weren’t called “punk”. We’ve needed fresh rebellious expression to threaten the status quo, one that hasn’t been co-opted by corporations and recycled by scenes. We’ve had so much angst and cynicism, so much “adult-olescence”, as an opting out. So much of this is beautiful, and it’s needed. The world is harsh, and life is hard, and adulthood in this era can feel like a hopeless grind with no fulfillment. We will always revel in this resistance, and we deserve something fresh, too.
There’s none of this in Storm’s show – there is joy, and honesty, and simultaneous vulnerability and hilarity. She’s breaking taboos open, gleefully and with delight. It’s pure punk rock, with a wink and a smile, without the snarl. When she tells her stories of growing up with her mother in a mental institution, it’s with love and openness – what’s radical is that it lacks resentment, or a sense of victimhood. She wrote a book about her experiences, she sings about them – it’s part of who she is, and her lack of shame and willingness to bring her fans into this is absolutely punk fucking rock. Her joy is huge! Her voice is huge! Everything in the experience of her performance is rich and decadent, sensual, and full of hope, or sex, or both.
Storm is funny and smart between songs, riffing on the theme of the songs, — she introduced the first song in Spanish that she sang, saying, “let’s sing them while they’re still legal, just in case Trump gets elected.” Her covers of American classics like Cole Porter’s “It’s Alright With Me” and “I’ve Got You Under My Skin” are glorious, and she brings these standards to the modern age, shaking off the insinuations to make them direct and bawdy, introducing one with the summary, “I’m not your wife, you’re not my husband, but fuck it, let’s get drunk.” At one point she gave a shout out to her breasts and her plastic surgeon who made them, who was in the audience that night.
She closed the show with two songs and a final monologue about how love and connection are the reasons she was here — “Really all we want is to connect, and to be loved.” She speaks the truth, and her final three songs are about love – her torch song “Stand Up For Me,” followed by “8 Miles Wide”, and then a cover of Queen’s “Somebody To Love” that could only be improved by Freddie himself. So much joy.
A friend of mine who knows her said that Storm Large is the tits and the balls. I’ll add to that, because she’s also the heart.