It’s a real hassle, as an Editor of Steampunk Journal, being invited to parties, being special guest.. So many people, so many parties…
I was, however, more than happy to be involved with the first showing of theVaudeville Evening at Whitby Steampunk Weekend. I’d been graciously given a balcony seat in order to take some video and photographs. You can see the videos I took on the Steampunk Journal YouTube channel here: Steampunk Journal on YouTube
Our compere for the evening was the fabulous Natalia Kalashnikov who is the hilarious alter ego of Liverpool based burlesquer Velma Bon Bon. The song and comedy that Natalia performed were excellent. While the evening seemed to begin slow, we were clearly being built up for the crescendo as Natalia performed her own version of a Dita Von Teese champagne glass strip tease and also amazed us with an acrobatic display. Not to mention the unicycle. In fact, I will mention it. She told us that she’d only previously performed this once before and it hadn’t gone well. She proceeded to prove this to us by showing us the metal rods in her arm (the trophy of a failed attempt) via a metal detector. Then she got a unicycle out, a skipping rope and actually skipped while on the unicycle!
The first act was the delightful Titi Von Tranz. Now I’ve been trying my best to upload the video I recorded of Titi on the night and it simply won’t do it. I have absolutely no idea why. When I contacted her to apologise and explain (I didn’t want her to think I was missing her out on purpose), she simply suggested “Too much Titi for YouTube?” This is what I like about steampunk and the wonderful inhabitants; their easy going and understanding nature.
Here’s what I adore about Titi Von Tranz in particular: On she strutted in a top hat, corset, mini skirt, bustle, stockings and knee high leather boots. If a few monocles didn’t fall out, then I dare say they should have done. Her persona is a 1930s cabaret girl from Berlin. This meant lots of appreciation of Germany’s then Chancellor which got a few laughs. She sang a few songs which, while mid flow, would switch from heavily accented English, to German! So we didn’t even know what she was singing some of the time (except those who knew German). But here’s the clincher; I spoke to her after the event and it turns out she’s actually from Britain! The accent and German singing was all part of the act. Absolutely flawless.
I felt very spoiled throughout the evening, because not only did I get to see Professor Elemental and Victor & The Bully perform again, I also managed to finally see Alice’s Night Circus and the gorgeous Gurdybird perform. People I’ve been itching to see for years now. I’ve had a couple of close calls with Julia from Alice’s Night Circus, but never actually managed to get there in time. I am so glad I did, though. What an incredible voice. She clearly knows her capability as the opening song was Curious World. With a melody reminiscent of an old carnival but with inflections of electronica, the song starts slow with a dark, brooding build up. Then the chorus crashes in and Julia’s voice knocks you back in your seat.
Gurdybird is a native of that unexplored region of the World we call Cornwall. Where pirates, vagabonds and thieves all congregate. Her music seemingly tells the life stories of these rum coves by using her Gurdy which, to the casual observer, is a wooden box with buttons and a crank (an actual crank, not Gurdybird). However, I speculate that inside is a mish mash of wires, cogs, wizardry and dark arts. Maybe a flower, too. Her music is described perfectly by Victor & The Bully when I interviewed them before the event. Matt said “She’s got a real cool, dark vibe about it, that’s what I like.” I couldn’t agree more. Her music conjures up images of pirates singing in a tavern, barnacles welded to the hull of a galleon and sea mist spraying onto the deck. She was accompanied by her music videos that she played on the projector screen on stage.
Speaking of Victor and The Bully; their set was the usual high octane music that we’ve all come to enjoy from them. Matt was right in the interview, you can’t see a Ukelele and not feel happy. As they began their set, the front of the stage filled up with Bully fans (Sinners) as they all came to have a dance.
The night Headlined with the notorious Professor Elemental lighting up the stage as only he sees fit. Not only did he play some of his most favoured records, he also involved the audience in some hilarious antics from picking out a chap to join him on stage (later nick named Honey Badger) to walking around the auditorium and freestyling raps by looking at things people held up in their hands!
The night ended with Steam Powered – one of my favourite records as it describes steampunk brilliantly – and all the performers from the night joined the Prof on stage.
As we all filed out of the auditorium, we visited the stalls of the performers as they sold their wares. I picked up the next sequence of Professor Elemental comic books and he donated some amazing music to a massive giveaway that Steampunk Journal is doing this April. Stay tuned for that!
I can’t wait until July when I get back with the East Coast massive and show Whitby what steampunks are made of.
Read the coverage of the daytime of Whitby Steampunk Weekend here: Whitby Steampunk Weekend by day