There are those who would jump in before I even get rolling and say, ‘Shelby, Halo is NOT Steampunk.’ To those of you who would make the claim, I would like to say “Hogwash!”, “Don’t be a fascist,” and remind you in the gentlest way possible that I truly do not give a shit, and apparently, neither does the Steampunk World’s Fair, because I have had the pleasure of seeing them two years running (even if this year they were shoved into the equivalent of a broom closet, and the panel before them would not GTFO when their time was up.).
I’ve noticed a few steampunkers have found my little music blog through my talking about these bands, and that’s awesome. The vast majority of steampunkers are wonderful, beautiful people. But, there is, within any group, always someone who wants to be an elitist and say ‘you’re not doing it right’, and this person tends to really enjoy Halo-bashing. Remember, ladies and gents, that steampunk is, and remains, 50% history (and I’d argue a history of literature, rather than a history of fact), and 50% creativity. As such, it is a culture with room for just a little bit of everything(as long as you stick some gears on it 😉 ), and is in a constant state of evolution. Now, you might argue Halo is not historical, but you certainly can not argue that they’re not creative.
And, that is my two cents about that. After all, this is a music blog, not a blog about steampunk; I just happen to be a fan of both, so when one leaks into the other, so be it. So, with a tip of my top hat, I bid the steampunkers welcome, but understand that my conception of that little corner of reality is fluid, and don’t hate on Halo, because whether or not they’re steampunk , they do not fail to entertain, and leave a trail of merriment and tupperware in their wake. (yes, tupperware).
Now: back to the music talk!
A Halo Called Fred is a band that really calls to the inner child. Their drummer bangs on an assortment of tupperware, cookie tins, and what appears to be some kind of cork board(???) with some kind of cooking implement that I can’t identify but looks like the bastard child of a barbeque brush and a wisk. I haven’t seen a set yet where something from the above assortment didn’t try to make a dive from the table, but that’s really half the fun of watching it. At the late night set, they invited fans to jam along by passing out signature tupperware(which basically means it had a Halo Called Fred sticker on it) to those who wanted it to take part in the evening’s percussion. I passed. I can not percuss and take photos simultaneously until I grow that third arm.
Other than the charmingly creative (and highly portable) percussion, A Halo Called Fred features guitar, bass (I have seen both bass guitar and standing bass, in different sets, if memory serves), and a violin. This combination of instruments is as perplexing as it is loveable.
Speaking of bass, Tiny plays a 5 string bass,
but I don’t think I saw him use more than 3 of them once in the entire set (as someone who wants to learn, I was watching). In fact, he spent the vast majority of the time on only E and A, which makes me wonder why one would buy a 5 string bass, if one doesn’t seem to use even 4 of them. Maybe one of the bassists reading this blog can illuminate me on why you would buy a bass with an extended range if you’re not playing anything that reaches that range. Of course, I do know that I’m making a wild assumption that what he plays in Halo gigs is all he plays. Lol. Still, a good mental exercise, and one I’m curious about. For the moment, I feel 4 strings is plenty – most of the songs I’m working with never make it to G, so a 5th would be kind of extraneous except in maybe…jazz and funk?? Are there any examples within the more rock n’roll end of the spectrum?). I also noticed he was using an Orange amp. The reason I noticed that is that I think almost every bassist I’ve paid any particular mind to seems to favor Orange. Food for thought.
Excuse the digression, let’s get back to the band:
With songs like “Drinking for Science”, “Transparent Head Monkey”, and “I Haz a Sad” in their repertoire (links are set to open in a separate window, btw – for your convenience), I think you can get the idea that Halo is a musical comedy act. This year I heard, for the first time, a song about “Bronies” –which I had never heard of and did not know were a thing (Are they male my little ponies? I’m still not sure…) –which was gracefully interrupted as the vocalist/guitarist suggested a mother in the audience cover her child’s ears for a minute, and re-interrupted with the same humor and charm when he informed her the rest of the song was safe for younger ears. Halo does two kinds of sets PG and…not so much. The venue and time of day usually gives you a strong hint of which is which.
Halo has a lot of great, really hilarious songs, but for me, their crowning achievement is ‘We Love You All’.
In a community known for welcoming all comers, there is nothing more steampunk than that. And, even if you’re not steampunk, they love you anyway. They said so, so it must be true.
Until Next Time, It’s alright, you’re allowed to laugh.