I’m going to use this post to give a really cursory overview of the other performers I caught a glimpse of at this year’s SPWF. The reason I’m not going to go into a huge amount of detail here is that I only caught partial sets of all of these acts, so there’s honestly not a heck of a lot I can say. I didn’t get very good photos, either, since I wasn’t quite close enough to.
I missed all the morning and early afternoon acts, because my cohort for the day also had things she wanted to see, and that was fine, really, because the things I really didn’t want to miss weren’t going to start until the evening.
I wanted to check out the Clockwork Dolls, which, from the description sounded right up my alley, but I knew it was at the main stage outdoors, so I was okay with coming into it midway through the set if need be.
I really debated posting about this band, because I don’t really like speaking badly of musicians. They work hard; they have a really hard job! And, generally, I can always find something good to say. When I can’t, I usually avoid saying anything at all. On the other hand, I said I would write about all the bands I saw this year, so leaving them out would be a little dishonest. I was hoping that by the time I got to this point, something positive would have come to mind. I was genuinely reaching for that. So, know that I cringe when I admit that after 1.5 songs, I knew that there was no way I could endure even half a set. The problem wasn’t with the song composition, but execution. I don’t know if it was that everything was wildly out of tune, that they weren’t in tune with each other, or if they just had equipment that could not handle the venue of a large outdoor stage, but the acoustics were agonizing.
Actually, checking them out on Youtube, they really have it together, so I don’t know what the hell happened to make them sound like such shit when I saw them. (I found something nice to say!) Maybe we can chock this one up to a technical problem or just a really off day.
In any case, it was more than my ears were willing to endure, but I knew there was another outdoor stage nearby that was supposed to have a performer on until 5:45 or 6, so I decided to head there.
This one was an opera singer named Jennie Jean. To her credit: her voice was awesome. The 30 seconds of music I got to hear sounded really good. But, after polishing off a piece, she was stopped to pose for a photo, then walked off stage. The set was definitely scheduled to go longer, but after about 3 minutes, I saw no indication that she was going to get back to it. This was around 5:30. I had a show I definitely wanted to see at 6 (Humanwine), so I threw my hands in the air and moved on.
(Note: She actually starts singing a minute or so in, if you want to skip watching her just stand there as the music plays in the video below.)
The group performing before Humanwine was Emperor Norton’s Stationary Marching Band. I admit I wrote them off when I read the schedule. A marching band? Eeeeh. No thanks. That was unfair of me. These guys were great. Packed room, people dancing in the aisles kind of great.
It just goes to show, even those of us who complain about musical bias and have an eclectic musical collection have a few biases of our own. In the end, that the first two performers in this time slot didn’t work out for me was a blessing in disguise, because I would have missed these guys (well, not entirely, part of the band reappeared in the middle of the Humanwine set), and that really would have been a shame, because they were a new-to-me act that I genuinely enjoyed. Enjoyed enough to buy an album…eeh, I’m still debating on that one. I don’t think it’s something I’d pull out of my musical arsenal often at all, but definitely cool enough that I’d go to see a show.
A similar thing happened to me last year, actually. There was a lot of hype about the Nathaniel Johnstone Band, but checking them out online, there just wasn’t anything that was really speaking to me. It wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t really exciting, so I decided not to waste my time on that set. But, I ended up catching the tail end of it, and wishing I’d seen the whole thing.
Some bands are at their best live, and that doesn’t translate as well to an album, while others fall apart on stage. I haven’t bought the Emperor Norton’s albums.They’re good. Really good. I just don’t know yet if this is a band that won’t lose too much from anything but a really top-notch sound system. They are on the list, though. They are definitely on the list. I’m just not sure if I like them because I’m riding the after-effects of the World’s Faire, or if I just plain like them.
Finally: Steam Powered Giraffe. SPG is the boy band of Steampunk. That’s not to imply SPG is or sounds like a boy band or has anything really in common with one, but that they have that sort of expansive fanbase and popularity within the community. There are people who attend SPWF just for SPG, and there are the haters who feel that their Saturday headliner ruins the event. You know, there’s always that guy who decides the moment something becomes popular that it’s no longer cool, and will waste the rest of his life bashing it. There is such a divide in the steampunk community as regards Steam Powered Giraffe. And, as with all things, I exist somewhere in the middle ground.
SPG is a musical pantomime group. They make good music. They make you laugh. They put on a really great show that I recommend you go see if you’ve never seen them before, because you will absolutely not be disappointed.
But, their fans ruin it a bit for me. I kind of feel like going to an SPG show is the steampunk equivalent of going to a…okay, I am not up on my pop-culture references, so forgive me for being a little dated, but …Backstreet Boys concert. (I know, that’s more than a ‘little’ dated. Lol. But I have no idea who 15 yr old girls are getting screamy about these days.) Sufficed to say, you wait on line to get smushed in a thrall of overexcited teenagers. It doesn’t make the show any less great in and of itself, but it does make it something an older fan might not be as excited about doing EVERY year.
I’ve seen SPG two years running, so this year, when they were sitting in the time slot opposite A Halo Called Fred, I had no idea who I was going to see and was debating it until the last minute. Then, it rained. I might be willing to stand in a thrall of screaming teenagers for an hour, but I’m less inclined to stand in that thrall in the rain, so I went for the Halo show, but the SPG show was longer, so I did manage to catch the tail end of the set, when they played two of my favorite songs. I skipped the encore, because I wanted to catch at least part of a different performance nearby (that didn’t actually happen, but surprise Eli August set, so that actually worked out for me.)
Will I go to the SPG show next year? Maybe. It’ll depend on how the schedule falls otherwise, if they’ve released a new album, and what the weather is like. They are a great band. I don’t want to downplay that. But, I’m also in a situation where I have already seen them a few times, so I don’t HAVE to see them EVERY time. I’ll still be buying the new albums as they’re released.
And, that is that, ladies and gents! All of the performances I saw at this years World’s Faire. The next show I’ll be attending is Against Me! So, no more concert talk out of me until then.
Until Next Time, Rock on! …steampunk style.