Bobby Conn is an expert at duality.
The master of spectacle spends his nights in make-up and boas, but his days as a humble art hander. At home he’s a quiet father and husband who claims to be an ace at changing diapers and whose wife hates when he’s late for dinner. But on stage he’s a take-charge showman who fuses punk aggression with glam rock’s theatrics.
Yes, Conn’s rock ‘n’ roll is every bit of escapism – mostly for himself. And his fifth solo LP is more of the same split personality and free-from-restraints songwriting on which the Chicagoan has built his over-the-top reputation.
While his live shows still have the glitz and pizzazz of a glitter snowstorm amidst a costume ball, “King For A Day” is a toned down collection of satirical tales of celebrity and pop culture obsession. Though far from reserved, the dozen tracks chug through mid-tempo rockers full of stomping drums (“Love Let Me Down”) sexy howls (the ironically titled “(I’m Through With) My Ego”) and distant organs (“Things”).
Conn has never failed to admit the differences between his public and personal lives. And that is what makes him – and “King For a Day” – so enjoyable. Hearing a person cop to the same rock’n’roll fantasy that’s in all of us is refreshing.
In a way, it makes his bizarre charades entirely believable. We don’t have to question if the frontman is really this way or if it’s just on-stage posturing. We know it’s all an act, and that makes it accessible.
Not everyone can wear thick lipstick, tight leotards and prance around yelping and turning out driving guitar licks. But we can all pretend to. Conn’s just made a career out of doing so.
Derek Wright is a music critic f