After walking around Glasslands with a red T-shirt on, Aaron Pfenning, aka Rewards, dons a Mr. Rogers sweater and takes the stage, presenting his harrowing voice and apprehensive hand gestures. Sly and shy seems unbelievable for someone with such an extravagant past. Pfenning got his hair done on the set of Beyonce’s “Party” video. He landed an appearance from Solange Knowles on his new “Equal Dreams” track. He has a full-length set to be released on DFA in the fall. And, here he is opening for Har Mar Superstar, whose underwear-bearing outlandish stage antics bring out the freak in anyone.
With hair flopped over his mic and thunderous bass filling the room, Rewards is lily-livered but smiles, showing off his dimples. He moans to the distortion, “Well, it happened years ago/I wanna take you home.” He tweaks the knobs of the synth so hard the table shakes.
For “Asleep With The Lights On,” Rewards invites Devonté Hynes, aka Blood Orange, onstage. “I can’t see what’s left/I will dream of a better place to live,” they sing. Rewards’ heady bass, breathy vocals and “shampooing hair” moves only get two girls dancing, but the rest of the audience is fixated on the stage.
Rewards takes the time to welcome Har Mar Superstar to his NY digs and jangles into “Equal Dreams” with sputtering bongos and exotic textures via the overworked synth. Pfenning soon joins the crowd, walking backward to a safe place facing the band and dancing through a nearly two-minute industrial refrain. He jumps back onstage for the last track, plundered with gunshot drums and a jangling bass solo. He throws his hair in his face and steps backward lightly when he thrashes hard on the guitar and closes out the too short set with animalistic cooing.