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Von Iva, Semi Precious Weapons

Plush, Saturday, March 7

"It's true. I really am this gorgeous," asserted Justin Tranter, Berklee College of Music graduate and cross-dressing frontperson of Semi Precious Weapons, "and we are from motherfucking New York City!"

After Tranter excessively tussled his bleached-blond hair and air-kissed the crowd, the band launched into a powerful call-to-arms entitled "Put a Diamond in It, and Bite Down." Bassist Cole Whittle writhed about as if on PCP, and the sarape he wore--no doubt an homage to playing in the Southwest for the first time--got wrapped around his head as he thrashed around on stage. Aaron Lee Tasjan, the gray-mopped guitarist, shredded like it may have been his last show. Voted Best Band in New York last year in the Village Voice, they had the rock 'n' roll thing--albeit with heaping spoonfuls of glam, garage, guts and gusto--down to a science.

Most of the songs ended up as crowd-pleasing sing-alongs, such as their breakout hit, "Magnetic Baby," from their newest album, We Love You, during which Tranter shouts, "In my fist there's a song. Do you wanna sing along? Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!"

At one point, he grabbed the camera held by my photographer, Lisa, and after taking a few shots of the crowd, stretched the waistline of his black tights and shoved the camera down yonder. (I'm sorry to report that all Lisa ended up with were blurry navel pics.) Semi Precious Weapons' ability to appeal to fans of great rock music while pushing the fashion envelope make them a force to be reckoned with.

Von Iva's third Tucson appearance since last July proved to be just as deliciously sleazy, taunting and awesome as the others. Soulful vocalist Jillian Iva oozed confident sexuality, and her backing band--keyboardist Becky Kupersmith and buff, blond drummer Kelly Harris--kept fans in a dance-filled frenzy. Iva wrapped her legs around those in the front row, grabbed at ceiling fixtures and flashed what her mama gave her. One song urged listeners to "stay away from the police," which proved timely as every cop car in Tucson was lined up on Fourth Avenue tending to a bar fight.

Von Iva played crowd-favorite "LaLa" and finished off the evening with their rendition of "Hot Stuff," inviting drunk, horny fans up on stage for a glimpse of the good life.

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More by Mel Mason

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