Each week, Lizzy Goodman guides you through the dirty streets of rock and roll.
The universe has finally found a way to reward me for many years of loyal Gossip Girl watching. I’ve always been an un-cynical GG fan, holding out hope that a world does exist in which everyone is young and beautiful and dressed in captains hats and extreme footwear and studying at Ivy League schools where they never actually do any work. I’ve always believed I would one day get to visit this place and last week, at the Gus and Scout show at the Mercury Lounge, that day finally came.
“As hard as it is to be a band with no connections, it’s uniquely tricky to be a band with super powerful connections.”
Some background: Gus is Gus Wenner. As in Wenner Media. As in son of Rolling Stone founder, editor, and publisher Jann Wenner. Scout is Scout Willis. As in daughter of Bruce Willis and Demi Moore. The kids met when they lived on the same street in Hailey, Idaho back in the day but they reconnected as students at Brown (Willis is a senior this year). Wenner was strumming his guitar on a stoop, Willis strolled by and he called her over to sing a few bars. Fast forward to this week’s release of the group’s debut EP, a promising collection of pleasantly moody alt-country tunes.
The scene inside the Merc was a to-be-expected blend of venerated industry big whigs (what’s up, Paul Shaffer?), Stone editors, and a slew of the giddy, young and beautiful. “You scared the shit out of me you bitch! How are you?!” scream/shouted one modelesque girl in a sheer striped button down by way of saying hi to a lanky friend in suspenders. This kind of end-of-summer greeting ritual was all taking place, by the way, not at the bar or in the back corner of the club but in the middle of the main room. While the enigmatic-but-earnest opener Turner Cody was performing — dutifully strumming delivering his delicate and thoughtful songs — one girl actually answered her ringing cell phone and gave someone directions.
The entitled rudeness of the band’s friends is the bad news, the good news is that the show was really sweet. This Scout kid can really sing. She’s got Lykki Li-like ethereality and Janis-esque throaty grit, plus the easeful onstage confidence of a born performer. She was a lot of fun to watch. And Wenner has the furrowed brow and appealing seriousness of a natural lead guitarist.
As tempting as it might have been to gawk at Bruce and his two other daughters, all in attendance, I split right after the last note was played. As I hailed a cab and sank back into the seats, the city lights streaming by, I thought about the Gus and Scout problem: As hard as it is to be a band with no connections, it’s uniquely tricky to be a band with super powerful connections. Will these two be able to develop their evident gifts while in the glare of the spotlight? Only time (and a full-length) will tell. But this is a good start.