So, the Rammstein show that happened in Oakland back on 5/18 was fucking awesome. I'm talking the best show I've ever seen.It started with a short 30 minute set by Combichrist, who, it turns out, is a hell of a lot more metal in real life than they are on their albums. Don't get me wrong. I really like their albums... but holy hell, so much more metal live!!Then, after about a 30 minute break, Rammstein came out. And, at first, it was just a really nice looking set with some interesting lighting fixtures and some good music.And then they started shooting fire out of EVERYTHING.Jets of flame from the set. Jets of flame from above the stage. Jets of flame on the front of the stage. A giant flamethrower gas-pump shooting flame 30 feet out over the crowd. And finally, for their second encore: a pair of gigantic angel wings worn by lead singer Till Lindemann that (c'mon, guess?) SHOT FIRE OUT OF THE ENDS.
Then they exploded
. No seriously. Fireworks up and down the length, fucking EXPLODING
.And this is still leaving out huge portions of breakaway set collapsing during songs with mighty explosions and green-laser-eyed baby-dolls hanging from above that exploded.So... Explosions and Fire with some seriously stomping industrial metal.GAH!!! BEST. SHOW. EVAR!!!!!I'll try to post some of the better pics on Flickr and link them here.EDIT: The pictures are posted here.
Unfortunately, the Combichrist photos did not come out - which I expected, since they weren't lit very well. On the other hand, as you can see, the Rammstein photos turned out excellent, what with the light from ALL THE FIRE
.-- Mr. M.
So, the other night, I drove all the way out to San Jose so that I could suspend myself on two sets of four wheels and do my best not
to break a limb.I haven't been rollerskating in over 20 years. Mind, I used to be a fairly decent skater... back when I was like 8. I figured, it's got to be like riding a bike, right?Well, sorta.Anyway, I took myself to San Jose to rollerskate. And why did I do this crazy thing?Why, for Wumpskate SF Bay's Star Wars Skate, of course!Overall Analysis: Music was decent, but the sound system wasn't. Skating was fun, staff was pleasant, and the rink floor was nicer than many of the ones I remember from my youth. Crowd was very sparse, though (and had some douchebags in attendance).
Ultimately, though, it may just be too far away, though.Venue: San Jose SkateThe venue itself was decent, but felt lackingThe Good: The rink-surface was fairly smooth. The place wasn't dirty (believe me, that's a plus for roller rinks these days).
The staff was very
nice.The Bad: The sound system did not sound very good. About a quarter of the light bulbs on the wall-fixtures were burnt out.
It's all the way out in San (fucking) Jose.The Meh: The food was passable, but seemed a bit expensive.The Crowd: Well, for starters, there probably wasn't more than about three dozen people there at the height of the evening.About 1/3 of the people were in Star Wars costumes (though few showed much thought or skill). Another 1/3 were in goth wear. And the other 1/3 were in regular streetwear (this is where the assholes were hiding, BTW; see below).
And there was the one guy that still thinks showing up to Star Wars shindigs in a Star Trek uniform is somehow original and hilarious.Dude. Seriously. That's been unfunny for 20 years at least.
It's not hipster. It's just hackneyed.Anyway, the 2/3 of the crowd in attire were all fairly nice and pleasant to skate with. The 1/3 in street clothes spent the whole night cutting people off, pushing themselves between people skating together, speedskating past people entirely too closely and too fast, and, in one case, taking out one of the nicer attendees by knocking her legs out from under her from the side when the asshole lost control while skating too fast. You know, general dickhead behavior.So, consider knee-pads and wrist-guards for anti-douche protection.Music: The music was decent, but seemed kind of down-beat most of the night. The DJ(s) spun a lot of old-school early '80s Goth and New Wave. None of it was awful, of course, but it did feel like I had slipped into 1983, what with the roller-rink and all. I admit that I was hoping to hear a bit more harder music than we got; perhaps more "club-ish"?
I know DJ Bryan Hawk (from Asylum
) can do it, so maybe it was just an off night?
So, this is much later than I intended for this post to get written and go up. I know - I shouldn't let silly things like life
get in the way of my virtual endeavors.Priorities, man!!
So... Black Beard's Ball.Overall Analysis: All-round, I had a fairly good time.
Band was good. Drinks were decent. Venue was kind of cool.Venue: The Oakland Metro Operahouse. Kind of a cool place
. Basically a warehouse just a few blocks off the Broadway strip in Oakland. There are two bars (one in the main room and one in a room all to itself) and drinks weren't terribly expensive (about $4 for mixers and scotch) though the selection left a bit to be desired. The main room is basically a big black-box theater.The Crowd: Meh. There were some solid goth folk among them. And a lot of steampunks and a smattering of pirates, of course. And a lot of non-scene folk, too. Anyplace else, I'd call them tourists, but I suspect that their presence may have something to do with Abney Park's fairly wide fan-base itself.It was also a little thick with people. There wasn't a whole lot of room for dancing and most of that was taken up by the fairly frantic swing-gothers.Ultimately, though, they certainly seemed to be enjoying themselves and were polite enough when they inevitably bumped into you.Vendor Room: The entry room was mostly for socializing and a couple of (rather over-priced) vendors. I wasn't terribly impressed by the selection and, though I expected vendoring with the steampunk theme, I was sort of disappointed in the lack of actual steampunk stuff they were selling. The whole selection was a couple artists and a clothing seller that seemed to specialize mostly in extremely expensive (though admittedly nice-looking) gothic, punk, and steampunk-ish belts.The Mid-Show Variety Performance:
In between sets by Abney Park, there were a couple of variety-show mini-performances.The fire-juggler/breather and an extremely skilled hula-hoop dancer were both fairly awesomeBut the set that stood out to me was The Standfire Collective - Two extremely lovely belly-dancers (Lisa Hyde and Unsinkable Molly), dancing to mixed goth-pop and techno-swing. Now, I've had the misfortune to see a lot of really bad bellydancing over the years (seriously, between being a pagan and an ex-Renaissance-Faire monkey, we're talking A LOT).
These ladies, though, were not among that
ill-favored crowd. Their movements were synchronized, elegant, and their hips moved without their upper torsos being shimmied to distract from bad footwork.In other words, they danced like professionals.Also... let's be honest: they were both really hot.The Unsinkable Molly, later joined Abney Park on stage for parts of their second act.If you get a chance to see the Standfire Collective, or either of the two lovely ladies that make it up, The Headline Performance: Abney Park Never having heard the band before, myself, I wasn't sure what to expect. But I was pleasantly surprised at what I heard.Imagine old 19th Century sea-shanties of loss, public drunkenness, adventure, and life on the ocean (or, in this case, the sky), with a slightly industrial beat, synth instead of pipe-organs (though the latter might be more apropos), and just a faint touch of what I'd call Tom Waits-ishness (a lot of their songs remind me of the slightly surreal themes of pieces like "Singapore" and "Cemetery Polka" from the Rain Dogs album)
... And you probably still
can't exactly imagine what I'm describing.Their music, whether properly called steampunk or not (for they are neither steam nor all that punk), is charmingly idiosyncratic and defiant of classification. And this is not a bad thing.
Using a variety of instruments (synthesizer and guitars, of course, but also accordion, mandolin, violin, hand-drums, and, hell, even a banjo
), they manage to come off feeling a little
like folk music but with a lot
of metal and industrial sensibilities. Actually... come to think of it, a lot like Jethro Tull's combination of folk and hard rock in Crest of a Knave
.But their sound isn't the only part of their charm. Oh no! They have the steampunk aesthetic to play with... though, in their case, it feels a lot more like steampunk's version of the cybergoth. Steamer-goth
Or perhaps more accurately, Babbage-goth
?I'm getting a sense of a lot of cross-genre bending-blending-and-pollination in every aspect of who they are.All that said - I bought their two latest albumsÆther Shanties
and The End of Days
after the show and have played the ever-loving shit out of them in the days since.I think we can count that as an endorsement on my behalf.
For those of you not yet in the know, Abney Park
, former goth-band turned steampunk (yeah, that's right, you heard me correctly: steampunk
) will be playing tomorrow night (Saturday, May 7th
) at Black Beard's Ball
which is happening at the Oakland Metro Opera House
.Brought to us by the lovely people at Swing Goth!I hope to see some of my little darklings there.I'll be the one with the goggles.-- Mr. M.