Pretty Horses make waves

Veronica DeVore

Lawrence’s Gay, Lesbian, Other, or Whatever organization hosted the rock group All the Pretty Horses in the Underground Coffeehouse Jan. 20. Not what would be considered a “coffeehouse band,” All the Pretty Horses was a rare change for a venue generally used for performances of mellower jazz or alternative music. All of the tables and chairs usually
used for students to read, enjoy their coffee or even chat during concerts were cleared away to make a dance floor, and the dark ambiance completely transformed the usually cheery coffeehouse.
Student attendance at the concert
was high, but may have suffered
a bit since the show began an hour later than intended due to setup problems. Once the show started, however, the band’s unique and abrasive sound attracted curious students, and it didn’t take long for the room to fill.
The band itself had a very unique sound, and listeners gave various answers when asked to describe it. Replies ranged from “punkish” to “metal,” “glam,” “goth,” and just plain loud. However, in many ways, the music was not the focal point of this performance; the band also put on a visual act during every song, complete with dancers, lighting and costumes. Eyes were immediately drawn to the lead singer, transgender
performance artist Venus DeMars. DeMars’ sequins, high heels, and imposing presence could not escape notice. The rest of the band, which includes the artists Jendeen on drums, Tempest on bass guitar, and dancers Shannon Blowtorch and MadKat, shared DeMars’ flair for loud, impressive, provocative costumes.
The performers’ passion for their music was clear from their wild movements onstage and their intense relationships with their instruments; DeMars has been described by Minneapolis’s Gig magazine as “the only musician … these days who still plays as if romantically-entangled with their guitar.”
DeMars and All the Pretty Horses are also much more than ordinary musicians because they choose to be active members of the Minneapolis transgender community. They organize
transgender musical events throughout the Twin Cities, and seek to promote a welcoming atmosphere for transgender people. DeMars recently told Siren magazine about organizing an event at St. Paul’s Turf Club. “One of the reasons I wanted to do it at the Turf Club is that it’s just a regular bar – it’s not a gay club, which most of the time, transgender events have been limited to,” DeMars said. “I wanted to help [transgendered
people] start making the step out into the real world, and have the transgender community really have the opportunity to be out in the open with everybody, and not in hiding. It’s a little bit more risk-taking, but I think it’s what the community needs to do.”
In a way, DeMars’ efforts also represent GLOW’s goal in bringing All the Pretty Horses to Lawrence. It appears that they were successful,
as GLOW president and event organizer Sara Bernstein said, “I only heard positive impressions. It was definitely something that Lawrence hasn’t seen, but the people who saw the concert seemed to enjoy it.