Presenting a peak of their expansive, Pulitzer Prize finalist show 24-Decade History of Popular Music, performance artist Taylor Mac stopped by The Late Show on Monday night (Oct. 29) to take over the stage with their infectious spirit, powerful words and outrageously colorful costume.
Accentuated by a piano, the MacArthur Genius Grant winner’s raspy voice soared high in an incendiary performance of Patti Smith‘s 1988 empowerment anthem “People Have the Power” — offering full-throated charisma, a deep tenor and a lot of sparkles. The glittery act was highly dynamic and featured an impromptu speech about never doubting that the power is indeed, with the people.
Rocking a colorful outfit by Machine Dazzle made of balloons and strings of glittery tinsel, Mac showed off their extravagant persona while delivering a message of peace and unity.
Before the performance, the artist chatted with host Colbert about the plot behind 24-Decade History of Popular Music, activism and gender pronouns. Touching on different moments in history, 24-Decade covers every musical phase from 1776 to present and with an hour focused on each decade’s tunes — focusing on communities that are building themselves because they are being torn apart.
When asked how to incorporate the Trump era in the show, Mac wisely replied — “You got to incorporate the calamity. To me, Trump is trying to steal the history of America. I’ve learned this at the clubs — if something is threatening to throw away the story from the storyteller, you got to incorporate that thing into the story at all costs. So we do incorporate Trump, but we don’t let him be the lead — we are the lead.”
Watch Taylor Mac on Colbert below.