Har Mar Superstar strips down for sparsely attended Mad Planet show
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If you were to picture a ladies’ man R&B singer, chances are he would look nothing like Sean Tillmann, better known as Har Mar Superstar. The Minneapolis mainstay’s pale whiteness, sizable paunch, and male pattern baldness may not shout sex appeal or sophistication, but any reservations about his credibility more or less evaporate once he opens his mouth, letting loose his big, brash voice and a slew of lascivious lyrics. It’s not the only contradiction Tillmann navigates, embracing humor without being a joke and spending time with his indie-rock project Sean Na Na in addition his work as Har Mar. But assuming you’re not uptight about labels or appearances, his skirt-chasing alter ego throws a pretty good party, impressively so considering he had only a sleepy Sunday night crowd at Mad Planet to work with.
The indie-meets-urban vibe of Tillmann’s career was well reflected in his set, which began, a little too late for a four-band bill, with local group Surgeons In Heat, whose laid back, likable, but at times nondescript take on indie pop is inflected here and there with some nice falsetto soul vocals. Things proceeded on to singer/rapper Lizzo, a recent transplant from Houston to the Twin Cities, whose raw, grimy beats and rubbery flow were enhanced by her commanding stage presence, together making a convincing pitch for her upcoming album LIZZOBANGERS, due out next month on Totally Gross National Product. Next up was Texas outfit Purple, a trio with an energetic alt-rock sound that boasted plenty of hooks, but felt a bit forced. That being said, the group’s sheer exuberance was enough to recommend them.
Though Har Mar Superstar is something of a star in Minneapolis, where the mayor declared September 20 “Har Mar Superstar Day,” and he routinely sells out comparable venues, Sunday’s turnout was less than impressive, maxing out at maybe 30 to 40 people. Those who stayed home, presumably nursing hangovers and resting up for the work week, missed out, as Har Mar and his full band, with Lizzo on backup vocals, shined throughout a set covering much of his new Bye Bye 17. The set included “Restless Leg” and “We Don’t Sleep”, which boasted a newfound feel for classic Motown, as well as earlier, more electro leaning cuts like “Power Lunch.” Of course, the performance included his signature move, gradually stripping down to a pair of skimpy underwear, much to the crowd’s delight. Who needs looks when you have attitude?