In a world where both audiences and musicians think nothing of showing up at a club in ragged cutoffs and old t-shirts (I actually saw a major British pop singer introduce herself for the first time to La audiences wearing exactly that) it was refreshing and exciting to experience Dessy DiLauro and her Parlor Social concert at Sayers Club Thursday night. With an attention to detail in both music and style and an unwavering demand for quality, she and her team of band members, guest performers and dancers put on what is undeniably the best live performance in the Los Angeles club scene, if not the nation’s.
The performance at the Sayers Club was a perfect example of how good they are, and how unique. It was a short set, only five songs. But in those five songs they got a packed elbow-to-elbow crowd on its feet cheering and singing as if it were an arena concert by a global star. I have seen Parlor Social three times and each time my response alternates between just movin’ and groovin’ to the great fun music and appreciation of the talent, design and hard work the group puts into giving an audience a 1000% all around immersive performance.
They started off with their trademark ‘Let me hear you say hep hep” designed to get the audience off their cell phones and paying attention to the what is going on on stage. What was going on onstage were the dancers of Parlor Social, Assata Madisson and Anissa Lee, sexily resplendent in glitter-enhanced black leotards who danced their way on stage with DiLauro. Once there, DiLauro launched into “Hep ep Hep” and the call and response resounded through the room as people locked in on the stage.
Without missing a beat, DiLauro introduced Parlor Social and moved into the rap-driven “Bringing It Back” it back with the Addison and Lee gyrating around her and the band moving like a single living organism. She then slowed the tempo down and showcased her golden voice that ranged from ragtime to romance in “It’s Complicated”. By then she had the audience transfixed -- mesmerized by her futuristic leather costume, her waist-length golden braids, the complex lighting ranging across the stage and the house, and the pure, emotion-laden “bye-bye” lyrics and the impossibly high notes she hit throughout the song.
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Without a doubt the high point of the evening, if it could possibly get higher, was the introduction of the night’s guest star, Teddy Riley -- new jack swing pioneer and producer to stars like Michael Jackson, Usher and Bobby Brown. Appropriately, they played “Higher Place” which is exactly where they took the audience for the next 5 and a half minutes. A historic event recorded on the forest of cell phones aimed at the stage.
DiLauro finished up with a flourish, singing “No Diggity” and brought the house down. My only regret was that there was not more tine and that the restricted stage space didn’t allow Madisson and Lee to tap dance. Hopefully, DiLairo’s next performance will include both the space and time they had at their Edison Club performance last week, combined with the lighting, sound quality and ambiance of Thursday night’s show at Sayers.
DiLauro’s ''Feathered Fro-hawk Futuristic Art Deco Centric Harlem Renaissance Hep Music'' – sometimes abbreviated to “Neo-Ragtime” from her 2013 album This is Neo-Ragtime -- has been incubating since before she launched her first EP in 2004, A Study of A Woman’s Soul. After touring with Cirque du Soleil’s Delirium as a featured singer in major arenas in North America and Europe from 2006 to 2008, Di Lauro moved to Los Angeles and began working on new music.
Di Lauro is backed by a band and horn section led by her musical director/pianist and husband Ric’key Pageot, who has toured since 2008 with Madonna on her Sticky & Sweet and MDNA World Tours. In 2010, the Di Lauro/Pageot power-couple released their first neo-ragtime single and music video, “Why U Raggin” which won two Hollywood Music in Media Awards, including Best R&B/Soul Song of the Year. The following year, Di Lauro was nominated by respected Soultracks.com Readers’ Choice Awards as Female Vocalist of the Year.
Those awards, and the others that are sure to come, confirm that Dessy DiLauro and Parlor Social produce the best live performance in LA and perhaps nationwide. Dessy DiLauro has it all – voice, moves, style and a connection with her audiences that borders on adoration.