By Rachel O’Brien
Molly Ringwald and Miley Cyrus have a lot in common: they were both child stars, they are both blondes of the pixie variety, and Wikipedia categorizes them both as teen icons. They both authored (or at least ghost authored) national bestsellers. They both have dogs named after green things (Molly: Olive, Miley: Mary Jane). Miley even refers to Molly in her song “We Can’t Stop” with the lyrics, “dancing with Molly.” Finally, they are both two of the most talented vocalists of our day.
Last spring I had the pleasure of attending both Molly Ringwald’s An Evening With Molly Ringwald concert (she is a jazz singer now) and Miley Cyrus’s Bangerz concert. If you’ve seen me accessorizing with a Life Alert necklace and hydrating through an IV, you know I am still recovering from both. Yet I feel it is my duty to compare and contrast both experiences for you, even from atop my bedpan.
Once I was able to see past the clouds of kush smoke (Bangerz) and old lady perfume (An Evening with Molly Ringwald), the first difference I noticed about the two artists was their audiences. Molly’s concert took place in Vermont, and thus everyone there wore grandpa sweaters and Bean boots (in an un-ironic way). The crowd looked like they did a lot of hiking and read a lot of birding books and heated their cabins with wood-burning stoves. I shit you not, the guy sitting next to me had on a corduroy vest adorned with maple leaves of various autumnal shades sewn on to the shoulders. The Bangerz concert, on the other hand, took place in Boston’s TD Garden and was populated solely by people I fondly referred to as “ratchito burritos.” They weren’t really wearing anything at all, and what little they did have on was covered in cheetah and/or tribal print. They topped off their looks with trucker hats. I wore my dad’s sweater to Molly’s concert; to Miley’s, I did not wear pants.
As expected, each singer’s chosen genre of music varied in ways their film careers did not. Molly sang jazzy songs from The Great American Songbook, as well as “Don’t You Forget About Me” (!!!). While I’m not much of a jazz person, I found myself gyrating, as much as was possible in my seat, during the Evening. But those subtle hip twitches had nothing on the life-endangering twerking and simultaneous exclamations like “I’m so jazzed!!” that occurred during Miley’s performance. Miley sang songs from what I’d refer to as The Great American Songbook, but what most would call the pop album Bangerz, as well as “Can’t Be Tamed,” “Summertime Sadness,” and our National Anthem, “Party in the USA.”
The differences in the production values of each concert were akin to the differences between Hannah Montana and Miley Stewart. Molly’s stage was adorned with a stool and a glass of water. The lights changed colors depending on the mood of the song: blue for a sad one, a flattering yellow for “I feel Pretty.” Unfortunately, I cannot fully account for all of the props in Bangerz. All I know is they included a ginormous blowup of her beloved dog Floyd (R.I.P.), a gold car, and a heffalump and/or woozle. There was confetti and money raining down at all times. At one point a huge vaginal mattress rose up from the stage and people proceeded to climb out of it. It reminded me of a sleepover I had in the fifth grade, as well as my birth.
Molly and Miley’s costumes were very similar in that they were both flattering. Molly wore a jewel-tone gown that was probably from Macy’s, perhaps Nordstrom. It didn’t really merit a description beyond “hauntingly beautiful.” Miley wore various thong leotards covered in crystals and gingham and pot leaves. All of them, too, were hauntingly beautiful.
Shockingly, their stage presences were polar opposites. Molly told stories about her children and poked fun at her current career venture. By the end, I wanted her to have my children. Miley, on the other hand, was not in as good spirits because Floyd had died just two days beforehand. She cried throughout her entire performance and profusely apologized to us, explaining that she’s usually “a lot of fucking fun.” At first I was mad at Miley because I’m selfish and I wanted to see her chew the panties thrown onstage. But then I realized that as her other half, I had to be there for her in her time of need. When she performed a boisterous-yet-tearful rendition of “Party in the USA” as an encore, I yelled “HAVE MY CHILDREN” at her.
In regards to the vibes, Molly’s concert could be described as “intimate” and “classy.” People clapped politely. When I went to the bathroom, the usher made me wait until the end of the song to sit back down. Miley’s concert could be described as a “hot fucking mess” and a “complete shit show.” I felt as drunk and high as the ratchito burritos who surrounded me, despite being sober so I could truly be there in the moment and one day reiterate the night from memory to my great-grandchildren as they surrounded my deathbed. If I had taken a nosedive from my seats in the nosebleed section after too violent a twerk, I would’ve died happy. Unlike Floyd, who couldn’t be with Miley in his final moments.
The audiences, genres, production values, costumes, stage presences, and vibes of the Molly Ringwald and Miley Cyrus concerts didn’t have a lot in common—hence my going heavy on the contrast and light on the compare. But if I’ve learned anything since attending my first concert (Aaron Carter) at the tender age of eight, it’s that the most important part of a concert isn’t any of that stuff; it’s the feeling you get when you walk away. It’s not about whether the singer was covered in pot leaves or the guy next to you was covered in maple leaves; it’s about the rush you get when you describe it at Thanksgiving for years to come. And at both concerts I felt star struck, speechless, and razzle dazzeled.
But at Molly’s I was not given the respect I deserved. The burn of the judgmental gazes of the elderly in the audience, horrified by my choice of what they would probably deem “street wear,” was unpleasant to say the least. And while my family and I waited in line for the CD signing, a woman carrying a beaded cheetah print bag (the audacity!) cut us in line (the audacity!). When we finally got up there my (drunk) dad told Molly, “We’re halfway through the movie” (The Breakfast Club). After we interpreted that statement for her, she asked my sister and I how old we were.
When we told her our respective ages she replied: “You guys are at that age, you should’ve seen it already.”
Excuse you Molly Ringwald, I’m too busy watching Miley Cyrus’s feature films to bother myself with John Hughes’s. But her burn did not deter us from trying to take selfies with her in the background. Thus we were labeled as heathens and would’ve been asked to leave immediately had we not huffed away, sick of dealing with Molly’s attitude.
At Bangerz, on the other hand, I was treated like the celebrity I am. I had the same hair as Miley back in the day, we kind of look alike but I’m hotter, and I dressed in a costume that rivaled the ones Miley wore onstage (see: no pants). This resulted in a lot of people whispering, “is that Miley?” about me as I walked past them while picking my wedgie and adjusting my Bitch chain. No less than ten people asked to get a picture with me. While I was washing my hands in that bathroom, someone took a photo of my butt.
In that moment, I realized it really doesn’t matter where your seats are or if the singer’s one true love (besides me) has just died. What matters most about a concert is whether it makes you want to tell your extended family about how it was the best night of your young life over gravy/your bedpan—whether you walk away feeling like the baddest bitch, or just bad. So while I loved her performance in The Secret Life of the American Teenager, I will always prefer Miley’s “Party in the USA” to Molly’s rendition of The Great American Songbook.