Concert Review: Uh Huh Her – Chop Suey 3/27

Leisha Hailey/Photo: Julie Peña

The crowd was a mix of young post “L Word” lesbians and friends, quite appropriate considering we all knew a big part of the draw of this crowd was Leisha Hailey. Both a star and the only out lesbian of the iconic show, Leisha has forever changed the landscape of lesbian culture. It is questionable whether she accepts this draw when performing as second vocal and lead guitar, or wishes we would all just focus on the music.

As Uh Huh Her came out, we cheered for the coolness of Camila Grey, lead singer, and quirky and playful rock star, Leisha. As the performance began, we quickly realized that we were getting more than a CD repeat in showmanship, and a number of new songs available on EP. (To be released in a long-awaited second album this summer.)  New instillations in the form of drummer Josh Kane and guitarist Brad Ackley added a surprisingly welcome skill and energy to the performance. Though this is no girl band, it is a well-fused band.  Josh maintained a driving intensity on drums, and Brad provided both great skill, and a smiling presence that spoke more of approval than gawkiness. Camila’s vocal presence was somewhat lost due to poor sound balancing, but to her credit she shared front and center while delivering all the leadership we would expect from a lead vocalist. Leisha vacillated in her performance between girlishly romping on the stage and glancing sultry looks into the audience, all while delivering some pretty impressive blows to her guitar. All and all, this band resonated equanimity in position and skill.

Camila Grey and Leisha Hailey (L-R)/Julie Peña

Uh Huh Her released their first CD in 2009, an album smacking of the poor boundaries and intensity in love and lust. With new songs likeBlack and Blue,No SacrificeandI’ve Had Enoughthey have proved they are progressing musically, though the theme hasn’t moved much.  While I might be able to criticize the subject matter, I must remember that it is not the artist’s job to enlighten or even to educate.  It is the artist’s job to be honest. And regardless of how I might be sensitive to the stereotypes of emotionally incestuous, drama-packed lesbian relationships, I have to remember that though these may not exist to the extremity that they are parodied, they do exist. And not just for lesbians, but for everyone. What may keep us feeling different and insecure makes us more like everyone else than we often remember. Especially when insulated in our lesbian “L Word” like worlds. 

In the midst of watching Leisha’s every move, we were drawn into where her focus went. The music. As talented an actress as she may be, she was clearly now in her element, and deserves to be recognized as such. We came as much for the performance as for the music itself. And that’s what we got. Leisha, Camila, Brad, and Josh committed to the intensity of the songs with a believability that was magnetic. As they forgot themselves, I did too.

I am convinced that though this music was written by, and perhaps for lesbians, it contained truth and skill, as well as a kind of innocence that betrayed its initial appeal. We came for Leisha, We stayed for the sound…and an expression of love that does not need a label. Thanks UHH.

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