Monday, August 10, 2009

August steam: Abney Park's brazen oompahs

Steampunk band Abney Park took to a gloriously red-curtained stage on a Sunday night in August at The Columbia City Theater.

Captain Robert calls this venue "'da bomb". The historic vaudeville stage ranks high in theatricality and the sound at this show resonated to the back of the room. It was an especially
beautiful setting for Kristina's composition, "Victoria," with the spotlight shining on Nathaniel's singing violin and Kristina at the grand piano.

The show opened strong with favorites including "Sleep Isabella," (Lost Horizons, 2008) "Breathe," (From Dreams or Angels, 2001) and "Stigmata Martyr," and "The Wrong Side," (The Death of Tragedy, 2005). If the crowd didn't seem as boisterous as at May's steampunk soiree, it was likely (as Finn noted) because there wasn't much room to jump around in the narrow space.

Still, the band coaxed some piratical heartiness out of its sardines with sing-a-longs, "Yo, ho, ho and a bottle of rum," and the chorus to "Airship Pirate," enhanced by the aerialist performance above the stage.

Abney Park does make performance look like fun. And Captain Robert turned this into an object lesson for the kids in the crowd advising them show tolerance ("It's not lame.") when their parents push them into music lessons ("or dance lessons," added Finn who performs en pointe to "Herr Drosselmyers Doll,"
(Lost Horizons, 2008)). This was an all ages show, and this particular event went far under the usual just under 21 set, exposing quite a few schoolchildren to steampunk in their formative years.

Dane Ballard (Sinner Saint Burlesque singer/emcee and SexLife LIVE host) emceed. Fire-eating performances added to the atmosphere, notably Delaney's dragon and volcano moves to a mix of "Transylvanian Concubine" by Rasputina.

A fashion show during a break for the band created an off-key interlude. Seeing as the fans streamed into the theater arrayed in a visual feast of burgundy, silver, and black corsets as well as top hats (in sizes wee to gargantuan) and tails — a fashion show seemed redundant.

With fans so well-attired, a designer is at pains to impress. And it was hard to imagine this was the right crowd to appreciate some of the more restrained creations — denim? shorts? sundresses? Bring back the band!

Lastwear recovered this portion of the show by bringing out some appropriately festooned ladies and debonair gents — and it didn't hurt that they were brandishing pistols. Designers of clothing for outlanders, steampunks, reality hackers, and temporal misfits, Lastwear opened a retail store Aug. 8 at 5459 Leary Ave N.W. in Ballard.

The show was a nice boost to what feels like a summer lull in local events. What have we been missing? Seen any good movies lately? Did anyone catch, Moon, in the theater? Reading any good books? Jack Vance stories anyone?

Up next: Check out the Caba-Rock Revue, featuring Scarlet Room and Adrian H & the Wounds, 10 p.m., Aug. 22 at the Rendezvous Jewelbox Theater, 2322 2nd Ave., Seattle. $6, for the 21 and over crowd. Presented by Sepiachord.

This fall, look for Abney Park's new release Aether Shanties, and see them at SteamCon, Oct. 23-25, at the Seattle Airport Marriott. SteamCon also features Tim Powers, author of The Anubis Gates, winner of the 1983 Philip K. Dick Award; artist Paul Guinan, check out his history of Victorian era robots.

Get geared up for SteamCon. Vendors at the Abney Park show included:

Tormented Artifacts — masks, jewelry, and curiosities Mac McGowan's brass-rimmed leather googles and SteamPink, Kristina Hoagland's cards and paper arts
Exoskeleton Cabaret — artwear and photography by Libby Bulloff
Deviant Design — graphic design, fashion, and photography by Bergen R. McMurray
PH Factor (Hans Meier) of Tacoma — goggles and accoutrements

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