Wait…Michael C. Hall has a band?
That was my reaction when I spied the Instagram post of a fellow concert photographer last July. He put up a shot of the band Princess Goes to the Butterfly Museum when they played Berlin in NYC. As a fan of Hall’s from his work on Broadway, as Dexter and in Harlen Coben's Safe, not to mention in David Bowie’s Lazarus, I was officially intrigued. I checked out the band’s social media and instantly recognized another member, keyboardist extraordinaire Matt Katz-Bohen, who I had photographed on tour with Blondie. The two met drummer Peter Yanowitz (Morningwood, The Wallflowers) when they worked on Hedwig & The Angry Inch and the rest is history. How had I missed this?
“I want to feel forever changing
but it’s hard when all this rearranging
means I might be losing you.”
Hall’s formidable voice commands attention right from the start of Ketamine, the first single released by the band. Dropped on October 25th via social media, they posted a teaser of the song with a full version of the audio on YouTube, though the official video hasn’t been released yet. The song is hypnotic and swirling. The song was mixed in the band’s clubhouse studio by the talented hands of British engineer Tom Elmhirst, who is the owner of 15 Grammy awards for his work with Cage the Elephant, David Bowie, Adele, Amy Winehouse and more.
Michael C. Hall
The intimacy of New York City’s Mercury Lounge was the perfect venue for Princess Goes to the Butterfly Museum to play, though clearly they could be rocking out to larger audiences. A healthy sized crowd watched the openers Malang Jobarteh and Miss Guy. Space was at a premium when Katz-Bohen, Yanowitz and Hall hit the stage at 10:00. Hall donned a button down with a butterfly pattern, black jeans and a smattering of face paint, while Katz-Bohen wore a modern styled black ensemble and Yanowitz decided on white puffy jacket over a t-shirt and pants with black gloves.
There is a charisma cultivated by bands when members are in sync. The chemistry is difficult to define but it is either palpable or doesn’t exist. This band has enough charisma to spare. Princess Goes to the Butterfly Museum grabs you from the minute they begin to play and doesn’t let go until the sweaty end of the set. The presence of Hall as the front man is powerful, as he prowled the length of the stage, engaged with the crowd and knew masterfully when to back off to make sure that each member had their equal share of the spotlight. The gift of his voice was perfectly showcased. Katz-Bohen brought the audience along the path as he got lost in the music, a powerhouse on the keys and a joy to watch. Yanowitz had the crowd enraptured when he left his spot behind the drums to stand in front with light sticks. The pure joy of the trio in creating this world is apparent and magical. It is impossible to pin the band down to just one genre, as the music weaves in elements of electronic, synth pop, rock and an ethereal quality that is completely unique and feels right. Hardcore fans perched in front of the stage recorded video on their phones and sang along with each word.
This may have been my first time seeing Princess Goes to the Butterfly Museum, but it won’t be my last.
Photo Credit: Christine Connallon