Bonnie "Prince" Billy Performed Last Night in the Monster Island Basement and It Was Awesome
photos by Emily Nemens
Bonnie "Prince" Billy
Todd Patrick's back from Mexico, and last night our fearless local promoter hosted two very intimate, very sold-out, back-to-back shows for Will Oldham--touring on behalf of his Bonnie "Prince" Billy alter-ego--in Williamsburg's sweaty Monster Island Basement. It's something of a coup to get Oldham/Billy in such a small space, for only $12 a person, considering that last time Kentucky-born singer-songwriter played New York was at the Apollo and tickets were more than 40 bucks.
Last night, at the eight o'clock early show, Billy showed up in all-yellow in the darkened stony room, accompanied by collaborator Emmett Kelly of the Cairo Gang, who played guitar and carried high-pitched, sinuous harmonies. For the duration, our "Prince" performed sans microphone, or any instrument besides the occasional
harmonica melodica, singing mournful ballads from his newly-released album, The Wonder Show of the World. It was transcendent. Oldham has the commanding presence of a stage actor; his movements are evocative, animated, and precise. A lot of the time last night, he looked like he was performing a monologue rather than singing a song. Meanwhile, the jam-packed crowd sat shoulder-to-shoulder on Monster Island's concrete floor, but, from what we could tell, the room was too busy being enthralled by Oldham to really mind. The view from the back