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Mx Bond's Austerity Measures

This unusual holiday concert by Justin Vivian Bond acknowledges both the joy and the darker shades of the season

Justin Vivian Bond
(© Bobby Miller)
Mx. Justin Vivian Bond's holiday show, Mx Bond's Austerity Measures: A Snow Job for the Masses, now at the Abrons Arts Center, is a stream-of-consciousness cabaret performance that acknowledges the darker, lonelier shades of the festive season while also embracing the joy.

In case you're wondering, the Mx is a reference to Bond's evolving gender and recent decision to begin hormone therapy. Indeed, the show focuses on identity and what it really means to be oneself. V (the gender pronoun Bond prefers instead of he or she) talks about the late decision to take hormones and being homeless for the holidays after moving out of a loft above the Mars bar due to the building being demolished for condos.

Bond opens the show with a cover of LCD Soundsystem's "New York, I Love You But You're Bringing Me Down" which sets an irreverently melancholic tone for the evening, which includes songs by Nick Cave, Kate Bush, and Stevie Nicks. Bond sets up the Fleetwood Mac classic "Rhiannon," by describing seeing Nicks in concert at Jones Beach and being visited by the ghost of Edgar Allen Poe. V conjures both Nicks and Poe throughout the song, giving it a whimsical vibe while adding that it very well could all be a hallucination.

Rather than stick to a narrative, Bond touches on the recent Republican debates, Newt Gingrich's controversial proposal to employ poor kids as janitors, and Occupy Wall Street.

One of the most touching moments of the show is when Bond talks of how being asked to perform in a Christmas show, which leads to the singer writing "Christmas Spells," which captures Bond's conflicting feelings of joy for the holidays and also a sense of being excluded from them because of an intolerance that permeates religion yet defies the Christmas spirit.

Bond is poised and stunning on stage in self-described "eccentric art teacher" dress and later on in a shinier evening gown, which is worn while performing "All My Friends." It's one of LCD Soundsystem's best known songs and a staple for many DJs at dance parties. But as sung sung by Bond, there's a deeper longing that comes through in the lyric, "where are your friends tonight?"