Taylor Momsen’s Birthday Party Was Not Really A “Sweet” Sixteen

noah | July 29, 2009 11:00 am

Last night I ventured to New York’s Hiro Ballroom for the 16th birthday party of Taylor Momsen, who stars on the cult-beloved TV show Gossip Girl and who fancies herself a rocker chick in the Sassy cover girl mold. (Note this recent quote from her Teen Vogue cover story: “I would eat a boy my age alive.”) The “party” wasn’t a meet-and-greet affair as much as it was an opportunity for her band, the Pretty Reckless, to perform in front of a crowd of radio-station contest winners, assorted VIPs (including some video-camera-wielding family members), and co-stars. (Who, it should be noted, I didn’t see at all, due to them presumably being ensconced in the club’s roped-off upstairs area.) Momsen, clad in a sheer pink baby-doll dress, a black bra, and a pair of knee-high lace-up boots, led her all-brunette-male band ably through the 10-song set, veering from underage coquette to genuinely excited birthday girl (and sounding not unlike 30 Rock‘s Jenna Maroney when describing the menacing “Zombie” as one of her favorite self-penned songs) easily. Despite having all the sartorial trappings of a ’90s alt-rock frontwoman—her dress was covered by a leather biker jacket for the set’s first few songs; her blonde mop, red lipstick, and heavy eyeliner were straight out of the 1994 edition of the Courtney Love Guide To Grooming—her band was definitely operating in more of a ’70s idiom. The grooves were basic and kinda sludgy, with her sort of guttural voice leading the way through lots of songs about bad relationships and even worse boyfriends. The standouts were probably “Void And Null,” which sounded like a more disillusioned version of Kelly Clarkson’s “Long Shot,” and “Heart,” a ballad that made perhaps the sole musical reference to the alt-rock era. (Bush’s “Glycerine.”) Momsen’s performance made me want to hear what she might do with Babe Ruth’s “The Mexican” or other rock songs from the era way before she was born. The songs were all pretty brief—the set, despite having 10 songs, a crowd singalong of “Happy Birthday,” and a break, lasted barely longer than a half-hour—but they got their point across pretty well: Momsen’s already been around the block during her 16 years, and she’s ready to sing all about that fact. I wonder what she wished for when she blew out her cake’s candles?

Taylor Momsen turns 16! [YouTube]