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Posted at 06:26 PM ET, 03/18/2011

In concert: The Pretty Reckless at Jammin’ Java

Taylor Momsen of the Pretty Reckless wants to be a grown up rock star, real bad. (Photo by Lauren Dukoff)
Taylor Momsen, the star of primetime teen soap opera “Gossip Girl” and singer of the Pretty Reckless, shook and shouted her way through the first song of a sold-out show at Jammin’ Java Thursday night. She’s 17 going on 37 -- rail thin, bleached blonde hair, flaunting cleavage, enough eyeliner that it looked like she cleared out the entire cosmetics aisle of the next-door Walgreens and a voice that sounds like she’s been smoking cigarettes for rock-star-in-training homework.

And no doubt she’s done some homework. Her entire on-stage personality is a composite of some of rock-and-roll’s most famous frontmen and women. She imitated Janis Joplin’s tortured wail, Axl Rose’s slithering dance moves, Joan Jett’s [bleep]-all attitude and Courtney Love’s penchant for exhibitionism. Her three-dude backing band cranked out standard Guitar Center hard rock, the type of stuff that populated radio station playlists in the late-’90s. In other words, when Momsen was learning how to spell.

She has gone out of her way to cast herself as the polar opposite of squeaky clean small-screen-to-big-stage pop stars such as Miranda Cosgrove and Selena Gomez. But even with casual cursing (she said the f-word as if she just discovered it last week) and disdain for her fans, the whole ordeal felt as scripted as any Disney concert. Good girl or bad girl, a role is a role.

At one point Momsen brought three young female fans on stage and instructed them to remove their shirts and dance around in their bras as Momsen grinded up against them during a song called “Goin’ Down.” A flashing neon sign saying “I’M EDGY AND DANGEROUS” would have been a less subtle way to get that point across. And also less creepy.

The 40-minute set ended with a “Factory Girl,” which like the other eight songs was a perfectly competent blast of riff rock. This time Momsen sang, “Hey, wait a minute girl, can you show me to the party?/Just let me in through the back door,” as she leaned over and gyrated with her back to the audience.

If Momsen entered the Pretty Reckless in a high school talent show, she would win top prize going away. But man, the guidance counselor sure would want to have a long talk with her parents the next day.

By  |  06:26 PM ET, 03/18/2011

Categories:  In concert | Tags:  The Pretty Reckless

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