Steampunk & other Tom-Foolery! Spotlight on: Feline & Strange

Feline & Strange hail from Berlin, Germany.

I knew from the start that I wanted to feature Feline & Strange right after A Halo Called Fred, which seems completely bizarre, since the two bands have virtually nothing in common. (I know I’ve posted a lot of unrelated things in between, but the last band I talked about IS Halo, so it still counts.)

EXCEPT that they are the two acts that featured 5 string basses, and as someone learning bass I couldn’t help but connect them in my head because of that. What’s funny about that is that the bassist playing with Feline & Strange was not a normal member of the band (I think), but this is a case where, unlike watching the Halo set, I could see the purpose of the extra string – this guy was all over the place on that thing! Since both sets were late in the evening, Halo was still pretty fresh in mind, so the contrast between the two struck me.

Of course, they’re very different sorts of music, so they SHOULD be very different.

Feline & Strange was another band I nearly missed because of scheduling conflicts, but, by sheer chance, at the very end of the night, JUST as I was getting up to leave the event after Eli August, the announcer says, “Don’t go anywhere. Feline & Strange is on at 12:30”, so I stayed. Of course I stayed! This band was one of the international acts, so the chances that they’ll be back again next year are more likely a miss than a hit. So, even if it was 12:30 in the morning, and I was getting pretty droopy, and my phone was in single digit battery life land (which I thought I’d prepped for, but apparently your phone needs a certain percentage of life left to even utilize the juice stored in the power bank I brought with me, and whatever that percentage is, it’s higher than 8. Live and learn. I actually turned it off so I would have juice enough left when I was leaving for my phone to tell me if I exit to the left or the right.).

Now, I knew absolutely nothing about them going in other than the fact that they’re from Berlin, and their name. They’d been on that lists of acts I might like to check out, if scheduling permitted. And, since they only found out they were doing that late night set immediately before the set happened, I figure it was a pretty happy accident that I managed to be in the right place at the right time, because these guys were fantastic.

I really want to say that again: fantastic, because I don’t normally go in for synth-pop – European or otherwise. So, when I say fantastic, I want you to understand that I went in having never heard of them, and left with two of their three albums (the third I bought on Amazon later, since I didn’t have enough cash left on me for all three on the spot). In fact, one of the albums (Lies) wasn’t even due to be released until June, but those of us at SPWF had an opportunity to get it early. Yay!

Now, gushing aside. The band was listed as ‘synth-pop’, but it’s not what jumps to mind when I think synth-pop. I always imagine mostly bouncy techno(synth) without substance(pop – don’t look at me like that! Have you heard the top 40 recently?!). And, I know that’s not fair, because I know how outsiders view punk and metal with that same sort of blanket of disapproval. But, I can’t help it; it’s just what my mind fills up with. It’s the association I make whether I know it’s wrong to make snap judgments or not. I like my music sounding organic, and I loathe drum machines, so there is a knee-jerk not to music that IS synthetic, but music that sounds like it came out of a computer.

Well, there was a computer. And, I didn’t care. There was also a keyboard, a bassist who Feline said was “from here”, so I assume is not a usual part of the band, and a guy playing teeny tiny drums and what the sound guy called a cello. I thought he had to be wrong. I’d never seen a cello that looked like that before, but apparently electric cellos can look quite different! Cool. 🙂

They opened with a song called “Science Fiction”, with dialogue interspersed setting a storyline where the band is a bunch of aliens inhabiting human bodies and getting to know the world of humans. Now, on the one hand, that is kind of cliché. On the other hand, clichés become cliché because there’s something about them that is intrinsic to the human condition. Everyone feels a little alien sometimes, and with a set full of songs that deal strongly with love, isolation, and our place in the world, the alien backstory just plain works.

The bands I’ve spoken about so far are bands I was already familiar with, so that makes this post a little different. Frenchy & the Punk, Eli August, Humanwine, and Halo, are all great bands, but they’re also familiar bands. They were my wonderful discoveries in prior years. Feline & Strange is the hidden gem I unearthed at this year’s SPWF, and they are worth polishing off and showing to all your friends.

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