WEST VILLAGE, NY—The Rolling Stones EXHIBITIONISM recently opened in the West Village and yes indeed, it’s a gas, gas, gas. Combining multimedia, artifacts, costumes and even a grimy replication of the founding members’ first flat in 1963 where Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and Brian Jones resided in London. Dirty dishes, cigarette butts, urban filth and a record collection of jazz and blues greats lie strewn about the guys’ skuzzy living room for added effect.
Done up ever so thoughtfully and with a dose of cheeky tastelessness that the band is known for, their history comes to life as you take on the recording contracts, handwritten lyrics (“Miss You,” “Lies,” “Shattered”), instruments (Keith’s Fender guitar, Mick’s acoustic Gibson, Charlie’s Ludwig drumset) and a recording studio replica complete with vintage gear from the ’60s where the self-proclaimed “Greatest Rock and Roll Band in the World” made the music. And that’s only the first floor!
The second floor takes on the artwork the band inspired including posters, album covers, set designs from their various tours and of course that big tongue with flags of the nations the band’s played flashing on it in multicolored glory. In a small screening room, Martin Scorsese discusses the films as well as his own shot at the band’s legacy in Shine A Light.
The Stones’ influence on the fashion world and how they morphed from the London swagger of London’s Carnaby Street and onto the dirty chic of the raucous arenas of the world is next. Mick and Keith’s clothes adorn the dummies and they don’t seem lifeless. You can practically smell the sweat on the outfits as living monuments to the Stones’ fashion sense.
At the backstage mockup, in anticipation of the boys’ “performance,” you walk on past guitars lying about ready to be restrung as well as Mick’s makeup mirror and then onto an eye-popping 3D performance of them playing “Satisfaction” with ’70s era guitarist Mick Taylor. The toy drums that Charlie Watts played on the original version of “Street Fighting Man” that follows takes you back from the spectacle of the Stones’ live stage show and to the songs.
A sloping exit ramp leads outside to street level and back to reality just like you’re leaving the backstage area of an arena rock show. Proving once and for all who the greatest rock and roll band ever was, this exhibit ties together the loose ends of their storied cannon including fashion, art, their humble origins and above all the songs that defined an era and attitude.
Exhibitionism runs until March 2. Check it out at stonesexhibitionism.com.