You let other women make a fool of you.
Why don't you do right, like some other men do?
Get out of here and get me some money, too."
-- Peggy Lee, "Why Don't You Do Right?"
So, I just got back from the second day of this year's Steamstock.
Unlike last year, it was in July (rather than October) and lasted for two days (instead of just one). Here are my thoughts:
The performances were amazing!!! Considering that they're the primary draw of Steamstock, and were recruited from all over the U.S. -- nay, the WORLD!! -- this makes sense.
Lee Presson and the Nails were astounding (as usual, but it deserves to be repeated) -- if the combination of the terms "goth" and "swing" sound at all appealing to you, LPN is who you want to be listening/dancing to. Hell, even if your interest is just "swing", you'll do alright with them.
Victoria and the Vaudevillains were ALSO excellent. I missed most of their performance last year and somehow kept missing their shows elsewhere since then. Basically, I had to settle for Youtube vids to get a feel for their music, which only made me more sad about missing them over and over. Thankfully (and finally!) I got to see Victoria Victrola live with her cast of Villains and Zombies. And they did not disappoint in the least! Somewhere between adorable, creepy, and crazy, Victoria V and her crew put together a mean zombie cabaret act.
Other delights that particularly piqued my interest over the weekend:
Good Company - I believe Good Company performed last year, as well. But as I've gotten a little bit of a taste for Electro Swing and Boomswing, I was in a much better position to admire them as the only Electro Swing band currently in existence in the U.S. Very danceable, giving a modern twist on the musical stylings of the '30s and '40s.
Hannah Thiem - If you like our own local cellist-delight Unwoman, then you should definitely consider listening to some of Hannah's violin-electro music. Definitely in a similar vein to our own Bay Area darling.
Psyche Corp - This one is particularly hard to peg. Think Alice in Wonderland meets Mirrormask (especially the circus elements) and you might get some vague idea. Her music was dystopian and surreal, but also playful. My particular favorite was her rendition of Poe's "Annabel Lee". The young woman that is Psyche Corp definitely deserves to have a full band backing her. In fact, that she didn't was perhaps my only real complaint about her.
Mr. B., the Gentleman Rhymer - The "headlining act" of the first night, Mr. B was equal parts ridiculous and ridiculously entertaining. His style is "Chap-Hop", which is basically rap, but using overly-proper and exceptionally-polite Oxford English, backed with proverbial "fat beats", all while strumming along on a Banjolele. Amusing both for his own pieces and his renditions of hip-hop classics (slightly skewed to fit with his own styling).
About Steamstock in general:
This year there was definitely more music (two days' worth!!) and probably around 50% more vendors (which was nice when you wanted a break from all the performances).
I definitely liked the "two stage" arrangement again. It allowed the next performers to set up while the current set were on the other stage across the room. There were a few "sound check" faux pas, of course... but MOST of the bands were good and kind enough to adapt quickly to the arrangement and still put on wonderful performances.
There was lots of seating and table-space on the first day, which was nice when you've been standing for an hour after listening to two acts in a row. In fact, I'm not really sure why they took so much of it away on the second day... It made standing around a bit of a problem for those of us who had tired feet (especially those of us that had already done the standing "thing" for a whole day already).
But the only real issue I had was putting the headlining acts for each day at the end of a very LONG day of music. For instance, I know a number of people that really wanted to see Mr. B on the first day, but they were so tired that, by the time his performance started at ten minutes to eleven, they had already left. And I recall this being something of a problem last year, as well. Abney Park was the headliner that evening, and a number of people had just gotten entirely too exhausted to stay late enough to see them perform, leaving AP with a much smaller audience than the day's ticket sales suggested.
Unfortunately, I'm not sure how fixable this issue really is.
So, there you have it, my darklings! Steamstock II was, by and large, as awesome as the first go round. I expect that Steamstock III will be comparable next year, and I look forward to seeing you all there!
-- Mr. M.