It's important to understand that Leslie Hall, School of the Museum of Fine Arts graduate and Ames, Iowa native, is brilliant. The gem sweater proponent is the most brilliant regionalist, perhaps, since fellow Iowan Grant Wood.
Not only can she really sing, but she is also fiercely at the top of her game. And the name of her game is performance art of the zaftig, gold-pantsed kind. Forget lazy 15-minutes-of-fame references. In 2006, Manhattan's Paper magazine put Hall on its "Beautiful People" list. Any time now, she's likely to gather up her fringes and sashay off to Nashville.
Film-goers and the usual Madison scenester suspects congregated like the faithful to watch the YouTube superstar kick off the Wisconsin Film Festival 2007 at the Café Montmarte party on Friday night.
Hall took the stage at about 10:30, minus an opening act. She and her back-up dancers cruised through an hour-long set that included "Can't Stop the Gems (Jams)," the giddily audience-participatory "Shazam I'm Glamorous," and a naming ceremony for the gem sweaters of four lucky audience members. Any Leslie and the Ly's show includes videos projected onto a screen, onstage outfit changes made possible through the miracle of Velcro, and the use of a 2 x 4 and harness to execute moves seldom seen outside a circus tent. L & L's music is an extension and propellant of the gem sweater-loving persona, but it is also well-crafted dance music that can get a roomful of people dancing. And nothing moves a crowd like name-checking Wisconsin dairy. Really.
Appropriately, Hall first gained notice as a performance artist when she began making videos. View the Leslie and the LY's website and the rest of the art-making juggernaut at www.lesliehall.com. It's possible she'll be back at the Wisconsin Film Festival with her own entry in the future.