Whitby Steampunk Experience Pt. 1 – Friday

Friday entertainment with Montague Jacques Fromage
Copyright Neal Rylatt, used with permission

Friday 28th July 2017 saw the opening of the second Whitby Steampunk Weekend and Steampunk Journal made the delightful journey to one of the most beautiful parts of the country to be there.

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Considering Whitby Steampunk Weekend (affectionately nicknamed Whitney Houston Weekend after a “Welcome to Whitney.. er, Whitby!” slip of the tongue from Victor & The Bully) is still in it’s infancy, you’d be very much mistaken into thinking it’s a well established festival. Comparable to the larger, longer established weekends such as Weekend at The Asylum, Surrey Steampunk Convivial or A Splendid Day Out, Whitby has the same feeling of tradition. It’s as though we’ve been visiting for years, but this was only the second time.

It’s certainly a mysterious feeling and sets Whitby apart from the rest of the festivals. They all have their own merits and reasons for visiting them. However Whitby feels different. I suppose in a way, they all feel the same in terms of being welcome, enjoyment, the amount that one will laugh with friends and marvel at the entertainment. But each festival has a slightly different way of experiencing these “ingredients”; sort of like being faced with identical siblings but still knowing which one is which.

Biscuithead and the Biscuit Badgers

Biscuithead & The Biscuit Badgers. Copyright Neal Rylatt, used with permission

It could be argued that Whitby is like that Mysterious Uncle that we all have. Nobody knows where he came from. It’s as though he was always there. Interestingly, that was the second song performed by Biscuithead and the Biscuit Badgers on Friday night. This was the first time I’d seen them and I was really pleased that they were there. They are absolutely bonkers. They fit right in. The band consists of four members on Piano, Ukelele, Drums and Tuba/French Horn (at least I think that’s what it was). The latter member – Sam – was dressed in a faux fur coat and a giant fox head. Bob – the Piano player – was dressed in vivid colours like he’d just come straight from his job as a semi-successful children’s television presenter. He’d scrawled a (purposefully) poorly executed twirly moustache on his face as if in a desperate attempt to fit in. Matthew (good strong name) on Drums was the most sensibly dressed in a smart shirt, braces and tie. Finally Dean the lead singer had a brown suit, Fez and big moustache painted on his face. With his Ukelele he looked like how I’d imagine Matt from Victor & The Bully to look like when he finally becomes an adult.

Beige is all the rage

Now, despite knowing little about music arrangement and knowing what the crowd would like to hear, if I was to read that a band was going to open with a song called Beige, I’d likely rearrange that little faux pas. However, Biscuithead and the Biscuit Badgers (from hereon referred to as B & BB because I’m lazy) absolutely smashed it. It’s a fast, upbeat and hilarious song all about the colour beige. I managed to catch it on film and I recommend having a listen and a watch. B & BB also entertained us with popular songs from past and their present album including The Bathroom, Cheese and David Attenbrough. Before performing the latter, B & BB had us split into two halves of the room. When David was sung one half had to raise their hands and when Attenbrough was sung, the other half had to repeat the excercise. It was crazy because he repeats it so many times in the song. But then also catches you out by not singing it when you think he will.

Captain of the Lost Waves

Captain of the Lost Waves. Copyright Neal Rylatt, used with permission

B & BB were preceded by the incredible voice of The Captain of the Lost Waves. When I say incredible, I’m not understating either. His soprano notes were making the snare drum shake so much the microphone sat over it picked the noise up and it came through the speakers. Each song of around 3-5 minutes ended up twice as long because he would stop and tell us a story; digressing several times like a Ronnie Corbett segment. The well spoken Captain comes across as very wise and spiritual. I asked him if this was the case in an interview with him that I sat in with Atticus Oldman from Steampunk Almanac. Atticus is going to be posting the audio from that interview and I will be posting the transcribed version here, so keep a look out on both sites for his response.

The Captain managed to entertain us in different ways to B & BB. He travelled around the entire stage, seating and even the balcony! He was funny in a more elegant fashion, picking up on observations of life from a more cosmic viewpoint. His song Grand National became my favourite. I’ve since been listening to it on a loop and I’m glad to say I filmed it. You can watch the recording of it on the Steampunk Journal YouTube channel.

Montague Jacques Fromage

Montague Jacques Fromage. Copyright Neal Rylatt, used with permission

Presenting the evening was none other than everyone’s favourite jetsetting steampunk Montague Jacques Fromage. Easily one of the nicest and most helpful people on the steampunk scene. He’s also an ever present face at events both in the UK and America. On top of that, he’s travelled further afield to New Zealand. His unique style of music fuses hip hop and funk with education and humour. Watching the “volunteers” attempting to keep up with his swagger on the stage during Funky2Step was hilarious.

Monty was present throughout the rest of the weekend helping with various aspects of the weekend. Flag bearing for some of the steampunk march on Saturday afternoon and being involved in a fantastic interview with Atticus Oldman and I. That will be available to hear on Steampunk Almanac as well as the transcribed version to read on Steampunk Journal.

Victor and the Bully

Victor & The Bully. So fit. Copyright Neal Rylatt, used with permission

The night ended with the headliners Victor & The Bully who, if you remember, had been a supporting act in February. To propel themselves to headliner in 6 months shows the love for Matt and Harry in the community. I managed to film Worked To Death which you can view via this link. They played some of their familiar favourites – including my current favourite Letting Go – and a few from their upcoming second album. They ended the night with 1980s camp favourite YMCA and got several people up on stage including me and Michael from White Rose Yorkshire Steampunks. The stage was also invaded by Monty and Andy, the organiser, as they lampooned dance moves across the stage.

It was a fitting end to the night for what promised to be an exciting weekend that loomed ahead. I held a table where I sold items for charity and discussed the Journal. I’ll be covering the rest of the event and Saturday night’s shenanigans in a second article soon.

Here’s some more images courtesy of Neal Rylatt Photography.

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