Miley Cyrus Bangerz Tour Is Bonkerz In The Best Ways

By Tankboy in Arts & Entertainment on Mar 10, 2014 7:00PM

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It's a Party in the U.S.A. with Miley Cyrus and her crew. Photo by Jim Kopeny / Tankboy

Ever since the Grammy Awards when Miley Cyrus "officially" kicked off her marked determination to dominate the pop news cycle around the release of her latest album Bangerz, Cyrus has continually shown herself up to the task of staying effortlessly ahead of detractors. This writer has steadfastly maintained that her media smarts and ability to manipulate and control her image is what has caused her to rise above even the most established pop divas in today's musical marketplace.

We've gone from bemused to perplexed when it comes to "the public's" outrage at Cyrus' shenanigans. What's up with the tongue? The cultural appropriations? Running around naked? Is she a party animal? What, she mentioned a club drug? Seriously, what's up with that tongue thing? These questions all make us chuckle.

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Miley Cyrus is a patriot. Photo by Jim Kopeny / Tankboy
Seriously, revisit every one of those questions and at their root is a combination of great marketing moves and the ability of an artists so secure in her vision and personality—no doubt hard earned by growing up in show business and managing the neat trick of actually growing up and not suffering through years of arrested development to only freak out as adulthood loomed. This is why Cyrus can walk the fine line balancing above a turbulent mixture of goofiness, serious sexuality and the living epitome of FOMO meeting YOLO that transforms into the the ultimate manifestation of IDGAF.

This was all on display Friday night when her Bangerz tour rolled into Allstate Arena. Within seconds anyone who hadn't figured out what "the tongue thing" was all about was suddenly brought into the fold as a huge animated Miley head circled the stage and opened its mouth to unfurl a huge tongue-shaped slide that Miley gleefully tumbled down for her grand entrance. The tongue thing is nothing more than an image Cyrus has appropriated to give people something quick and easy to latch onto marketing-wise, it's that simple. Sure, it's a bratty and comic signifier, but doesn't that just help support the larger image she's selling?

And let's look at that larger image, because the Bangerz stage show was all abut Cyrus image, and that's an image that may have more facets and redirects than a disco ball under laser attack. This writer is most certainly not in Cyrus' target demographic, as evidenced by his eardrums now knowing what it's like to stand inside an arena of screaming jet engines powered by thousands of teenage girls' vocal chords, but while he wholly enjoyed the spectacle he was also aware this show wasn't meant for him.

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Miley Cyrus gets some support from a friend. Photo by Jim Kopeny / Tankboy

The things older folks around us gasped at—including same-sex kiss-cams, back-up dancers of literally all shapes and sizes in skintight spandex, a giant dancing dinosaur puppet, Cyrus flying across the arena on a huge inflatable hot dog—aren't really that out there any more. Cyrus doesn't delight in breaking down boundaries as much as she, and by extension her fans, don't really see any boundaries there in the first place. The singer and her crowd connect immediately because they don't see any obstacles in their way. Say what you will but this writer would argue that this is progress.

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Miley Cyrus catches a cab home. Photo by Jim Kopeny / Tankboy
So amidst all the bonkers visuals Cyrus also managed to deliver vocally. We still think she has yet to produce an amazing fully cohesive album but her pipes are undeniably her greatest asset. They were able to lift even the more mundane numbers to greater heights, and when she trotted out a few covers she could wrap her vocal chords just as convincingly around Outkasts's "Hey Ya" as Dolly Parton's "Jolene." Cyrus doesn't really need to prove her chops, but it's again refreshing to see pop spectacle built on talent as well as inventive visuals.

This all came crashing together during the show's closing second encore when Cyrus sang her earlier hit "Party In The U.S.A.," one of the few songs performed that wasn't from Bangerz. It's cacophonous choreography included, but was not limited to, a dancing Mount Rushmore, Statue Of Liberty, Abraham Lincoln, the Liberty Bell, a crew of Uncle Sam-ettes and a hundred foot tall cat. It was over the top and kind of messy and yet unafraid when it came to just throwing together a bunch of fun imagery that held only a tenuous connection to the lyrical content. Or maybe it was meant as a literal reading of the lyrics? In the end we don't think that question or distinction concerns Cyrus in the least, she just wants to put on a great show for the folks that get it and everyone else that doesn't get it? Well, this writer feels a little badly for them but he suspects Cyrus just shrugs her shoulders and keeps on trying to get everyone who does get it to just keep having a good time.