Steampunk & Assorted Tom-Foolery! Spotlight on: A Halo Called Fred

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You get two pictures of A Halo Called Fred…
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…because I unfortunately picked a seat where I could not get a picture of the whole band at once, and thought it might be insulting if I moved further away to take better photos. 🙂

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,

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Tiny + 5 string bass. See? I do not make this shit up.

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. 

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2 thoughts on “Steampunk & Assorted Tom-Foolery! Spotlight on: A Halo Called Fred

  1. I don’t know why he’s playing a 5-stringer and not using the 5th string. It might be reserved for special occasions. I know people on Talkbass argue about that all the time, and a lot of them say that they hold off until they’re sure it’ll make an impact, then use it.

    For styles that make a lot of use of it, I know definitely extreme metallers love their extended range basses, and a growing number are embracing fretless as well. Apparently, 5’s and 6’s are big in gospel as well, for that booming, voice-of-God effect in certain songs. Jazzers seem to fall into two camps – the ones that use anything and everything around them to make sound, and the ones who say “If 4 strings were good enough for Jaco then they’re good enough for me!”

    Bronies are male fans of My Little Pony. Back years ago, when I used to play this online game called City of Heroes, there was a fairly substantial group of guys who were bronies. They got into it because of their kids, and would discuss the apparent intricacies of plot and character progression and storytelling detail and whatnot of the new My Little Pony show. Maybe there’s something to it. I never watched the show.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Of course, we’re making a glaring assumption that this is the only band he plays for, which likely isn’t true. Lol. But, still. I saw another 5 string bass later in the evening, and he was all over the neck on that thing.
      Thanks for the run down. I hadn’t thought of metal. That makes sense, based on what bass aerobics I’ve seen going on in some of the metal songs on rocksmith. I know in my first music loves (punk and alternative) you virtually never see a 5 string. Those genres just really don’t need the extended range. I’m not sure if I’ve ever seen one in blues, either, but it wouldn’t surprise me as much there. Jazz I could definitely imagine it working in; Jazzers can get really experimental.

      And thank you, now I know. I have a female friend who’s a huge MLP fan, but I haven’t watched it since I was a kid, personally. A bit of the joke of the song was that the band knew next to nothing about them either (someone said they should write a song about them, so they did, even if they claimed to be completely unqualified to do so), so I couldn’t fully deduce what they were, other than being MLP related. It was funny all the same, but it just felt too silly to Google. 🙂

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