Photography by Thom Lessner

Photography by Thom Lessner. Performers are Rose Luardo (on guitar) and Crystal Kovacs


Photography by Thom Lessner. Performing is Rose Luardo (on guitar).

On Saturday, a throng of Philly’s best weirdoes descended upon the Barbary to pay tribute to English singer-songwriter Kate Bush during the 2nd Annual Night of 1,000 Kates. “Wide-eyed Kate worship” is what was promised, and that is what the crowd delivered, for Kate Bush fans are a wide-eyed lot.

We melt before Kate as we melt before all splendor. We love the things that are ineffably Kate: her highly theatrical videos and live performances, her jagged gestures inspired by miming and interpretive dance, her manically widening eyes, impish sexuality and penchant for chiffon.

And yes, her voice—a gooseflesh-making pop soprano that melds the fierce and tender as it effortlessly swoops, screams, whispers, growls, croons and moans, moving among a host of personae in songs inspired by topics as various as Gothic literature (her first hit at age 19, “Wuthering Heights,” was based on the novel of the same name), Aboriginal mythology, grand theft and Elvis conspiracy theories. It’s Kate’s multiplicity that makes her so singular.

At the Night of 1,000 Kates, our idol’s various manifestations were out in full force. The first floor of the Barbary had been briefly converted into a woodland, with six-foot high toadstools towering over us in one corner and branches adorning the proscenium arch of the stage. There, one after another, devotees made their offerings to Kate in the form of performances that were as unabashedly eccentric as Kate herself.

Over the course of the evening, sixteen performers let the spirit of Kate flow through them, pastored by MC Julia Factorial. The band Tinklepuss donned cloaks and injected Hounds of Love’s “Watching You Watching Me” with a dose of No Wave. Two women calling themselves the Overgrown Bushes (real names: Megan Thibodeaux and Andalyn Young) began their set with a few George Bush, Jr. jokes that exploded into a “Babooshka” striptease. During one of the evening’s best-received performances, dance troupe Body Dreamz, in teased hair, babydoll makeup and pastel chiffon, burst from the body of an enormous pink mother figure and made “Suspended in Gaffa” all their own. And towards the end of the night, a young woman named Candy stunned us with a dead-on medley that wasn’t so much an impersonation of Kate as a channeling.


Photography by Natasha Smith and Karen Kirchhoff. Performers are Emily Bate &

Although the bar was packed and sweltering, the crowd remained kind and generous throughout the night (with the exception of one thirty year old man bitching at a bouncer who refused to let him in with an expired license). United in our love for Kate, we had nothing to prove to each other besides our devotion, which took the form of dressing up as different iterations of Kate, mouthing the lyrics to songs we’ve sung to alone so many times, and clamoring for an encore each time another little ritual of Kate-fandom ended.


Photography by Natasha Smith and Karen Kirchhoff. Performers are Anna Young & Dan Eppihimer

The performance that brought the spirit of Kate fully, however, was one that took place early in the evening. In front of a projected video of Kate Bush riding a horse, a woman in a skintight outfight lipsynced to “Under the Ivy” and undulated through a series of characteristically Kate-like gestures. Seemingly out of nowhere, an enormous, lifelike horse appeared at the foot of the stage. She clambered on top of it and the horse was pushed through the crowd as she rode astride it, grabbing fistfuls of white roses petal from a bouquet and flinging them at us. Laughing and whooping, we all knocked against each other, pressed our bodies together, raised our hands to catch the flowers.


Photography by Natasha Smith and Karen Kirchhoff

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