The music industry can be a fickle beast, whether you’re behind the scenes or on the stage. Performers come and go. Styles and trends change. The public loves something one minute, then hates it the next. Riding that roller coaster can be a difficult thing…staying buckled in can be even harder. So when a veteran producer with a multitude of famous tracks under his belt, decides to take the stage it shifts the playing field.
We had the chance to interview Cary Nokey recently, and got more insight into his musical aspirations. He’s unique, philosophical, and on a remarkable journey of self-discovery. Besides being a talented producer (of course you’ve heard Lady Gaga’s “Paparazzi”), Cary Nokey is a talented musician. In fact, he plays multiple instruments and he plays them very well. We enjoyed his song “American Dream” and were looking forward to seeing him perform as the opening act for the RuPaul’s Drag Race Battle of the Seasons Tour.
When asked what to expect of his performance, Cary said:
“It’s much like driving a car. Yes, there may be one driver but we are all in it together. When that car is traveling at 100 mph we are all traveling at 100 mph. We feel the same wind, the same danger, the same force of gravity. That is the Cary Nokey show.”
We were pumped.
Cary took the stage along with a single dancer. It wasn’t what we were expecting. Somehow we were thinking there would be more dancers, or at least something else to balance out the stage. A piano maybe?
Nope. One dancer. That’s what we got. So maybe the car was going to go 50 mph instead of 100 mph?
Unbalanced stage aside, Cary Nokey himself is a good performer. You can tell he enjoys what he’s doing. Unfortunately, the crowd didn’t seem very into him. It could have been the lackluster backup dancer. It certainly wasn’t Cary’s custom rhinestone keytar. That was sweet!
He sang his song, “Now or Never,” which does a nice job of setting the tone for the Cary Nokey experience. But instead of showcasing more of his own work, he followed that up with a medley of songs that were clearly not his, including “We are the Champions” and “White Wedding.” It wasn’t bad per say, it’s just that his original stuff is so much better.
He did his best to get the crowd into his performance, but for whatever reason they just weren’t buying it. We still had our hopes that he would sing “American Dream,” maybe even talk a little about it. Surely that would win them over.
And then it happened. He pulled the “I produced hit songs for Lady Gaga” card and a remixed version of “Paparazzi” started to blare.
The crowd was now completely lost and really not amused.
Cary sang a long rendition of his song “B Who U R” after that, but the crowd was dead. It’s a shame, because “B Who U R” is a great song. It’s catchy and relatable to the audience.
We were still hoping “American Dream” would come next, but alas, Cary was done. He left the stage without so much as a “thank you. Goodnight.” In fact, he left the stage so abruptly, no one had any idea what was going on. Would he come back out? Was he doing a costume or prop change? What was going on?
Nope. Cary Nokey had had enough of Chicago.
I can’t really blame him. I truly believe he would have won them over had it not been for the distracting and subpar backup dancer and his playing the Lady Gaga card. After interviewing him and watching his videos, I suppose I was just expecting more…maybe even just a fog machine. I wanted to see him play the piano or another instrument. His keytar solo was pretty darn sweet, and he’s clearly got some mad musical skills. Why not show it off?
That’s the thing. Cary Nokey himself is incredibly talented. Sure, he made his name as a music producer. Yes, he’s got some big hits under his belt. But what he needs to realize is that he doesn’t need to rely on that. The audience wants to see Cary Nokey the performer, not Cary Nokey the guy who produced Lady Gaga’s hits. If he had come out with some fog, several well-trained dancers, and sang his own songs, I’m certain he would have received a better reception from the audience.
I’m not convinced we got the full Cary Nokey experience, certainly not as he envisions it. However, that wouldn’t stop me from seeing him perform again. If he has the vision, he’ll hopefully make the 100 mph experience happen.