Azis | Alta Villa | Rock, Pop, Etc | Chicago Reader

Azis All Ages Member Picks Recommended Soundboard

When: Sat., April 28, 8:30 p.m. 2012

Outlandish Bulgarian singer Azis (born Vasil Troyanov Boyanov) released his latest album, Gadna Poroda (Diapason Music), in 2011, but the preceding years were much more momentous for him: he married longtime boyfriend Niki Kitaetsa (though their union isn't legally recognized in Bulgaria) and became a father via artificial insemination, with a close friend carrying his daughter to term. But domesticity doesn't seem to have tamed him—his new record, like most of its predecessors, is an exuberant collage of Balkan turbo-folk, bhangra, trashy Eurodance, and Romany folk pop, all of it jacked up with slick production and booming dance beats. I could do without the Auto-Tune that's applied immoderately to his soulful voice, but he salvages even the most excessive productions with his powerful, precise vibrato and his outsize talent for communicating joy and sorrow, which leaves most of his competition in the dust. But where Azis is concerned, music definitely takes a backseat to image. In his stage show, he does some serious dirty dancing with members of his entourage—male, female, and transgendered alike—and his videos take an equally playful and brazen approach to sex and gender. In the clip for "Mrazish" he's in bed with two muscled­-up guys inexplicably wearing headsets and caressing laptops, who interrupt their browsing to eat strawberries and a chocolate-covered ice cream bar; in "Saint Tropez" he wears a vivid red Mohawk, a metallic white goatee, towering stiletto heels, and an extravagantly spiked black leather jacket; and in "Gadna Poroda" he spends about three minutes inspecting the bodies of buff types in bright tank tops and running his hands over his own ample but hairless chest. In fact, most of Azis's videos seem to be flimsy excuses for him to stroke his body and check out beefcake—what can I say, the guy knows what he likes. I can only imagine what one of his concerts is like in person—I missed his Chicago debut six years ago, but I won't let this one get past me. —Peter Margasak

Price: $70 (includes dinner)

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