We Review The London Steampunk Spectacular

steampunk-spectacular

Ahhh, steampunk. If being a goth doesn’t get you enough fingers pointed at you, try out this sub sub genre involving alternate histories, victoriana and cogs. To be honest it holds its wonderfully geeky charms and has attracted enough people for a proper shindig in the Cross Kings in Kings Cross. As I am a big ol’ geek too, I’m there.

saville-row

First band up are Savile Row, who haven’t played together in 10 years and are a guitarist down are a tight band, although more steam-indie than Steampunk, their sound (and their look) wouldn’t be out of place among the britpop scene, all jangly guitars and fun poppy sing along choruses. The addition of the rarely sighted female drummer (Seriously – you don’t see them very often) knocked them over the edge from pleasent into ace.

steel-drum

Next up was this years weirdest act so far – Robert Rankin’s goth wife playing hits of the 80s on a steel drum. I don’t think this needs a review. If you don’t think this is something worth seeing, then bugger off.

the-men

The fan favourites of the night, The Men Who Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing. Or The Men as I shall now call them as that takes too bloody long to type.

Featuring comedian Andrew O’Neill on vocals and guitar they are certainly not short on wordplay, humour and songs with instant sing-along-ability, they dominate the tiny venue and soon have the becorseted crowd dancing away. The only problem I have with them is that they are too funny. – If steampunk is to be taken as a moderately serious sub genre than bands who are more joke project than legitimate entity then The Men could hamper that by being too popular and making the face of Steampunk a big dumb grin rather than a frowny bugger in a monocle.

ghostfire

The headliners are the absolutely Poe faced Ghostfire. No jokes here, just steam scented goth-a-rockin.

Steampunk is all about a past that never happened, and is only imagined. Ghostfire look like a band with an imagined past. They really do look like a faded goth band who would have been huge in the 80s. Singer Mister E and guitarist Andii look like they could have been the Goth power couple in 1985 dominating the lives and eye-liner collection of a generation of angsty adolescents. The thing is, as far as I know Ghostfire have only been around since last year, so their past is only imagined, which I feel make them more romantic and mysterious. But maybe that’s just me.

Anyway, they act like they’re headlining Wembley, which is the correct way to act when on a stage barely big enough for the band, acting like a rockstar is 90% of being one after all – stage moves and arrogant banter abounds between the excellently jangly songs.

All in all, a triumph for Brit-Steampunk. The kids into it may still get called names, but with this lot on their iPod I really doubt they’ll hear it, or care.


26 Comments

  • Posted February 7, 2010 at 10:59 am |

    Listen, we’re part of the scene, you’re not. We get to decide what’s Steampunk, and you don’t. If we say it’s Steampunk, it’s Steampunk. One of the best things about the scene at the moment is the diversity in styles. That’s one of the things we treasure the most.

    And, if you think The Men are just a joke band, you should try listening to their lyrics. You’ll be surprised.

  • Posted February 7, 2010 at 7:58 pm |

    Well done Dylan, you’ve managed to come across as an arrogant tit who hasn’t read the review properly before touting your twaddle. I believe the review says The Men have clever lyrics that happen to be amusing.
    What uniquely qualifies you in particular to decide what is and isn’t included in a scene the way? Owning a pair of brass goggles? (I am actually interested in the answer to this because it means I will be able to stop people referring to Sunno))) as ‘True Doom’…)

  • Posted February 7, 2010 at 8:38 pm |

    Well, if you want to get picky, it says,
    “they are certainly not short on wordplay, humour and songs with instant sing-along-ability” and “bands who are more joke project than legitimate entity then The Men could hamper that by being too popular and making the face of Steampunk a big dumb grin rather than a frowny bugger in a monocle.”

    No mention of clever lyrics that happen to be amusing, just a sense of smug superiority. I took exception to the author coming to a self-described Steampunk event organized by self-described Steampunks and attended by the same, and then saying one band isn’t Steampunk (did the author make up the term steam-indie?) and another is a joke project. Maybe that wasn’t what the author meant, but the sentence is unclear and leads to that impression.

    Nothing gives me any more right than anyone else who was there that night, or who knows a damned thing about the sub-culture. Nothing at all. I just happen to be the one talking at the moment.

  • Posted February 7, 2010 at 8:59 pm |

    I think he’s saying that Steampunk seems to be heading towards becoming a serious genre, rather than a one-note joke genre (and let’s face it, it’s sheer preposterousness already puts it on the edge, I think it’s a compliment-he’s saying they could be a break-out (although possibly for the wrong reasons…). I dunno -what the hell are you saying Von? Answer us!

  • Posted February 7, 2010 at 9:11 pm |

    You could read it as:
    “The only problem I have with them is that they are too funny – the apparent popularity of The Men could lead to bands that are more joke project than legitimate entity, and that could turn the popular face of Steampunk into a big dumb grin rather than a frowny bugger in a monocle.”
    which is a legitimate concern.

    Plenty of space for frowny buggers, dumb grinners and weird guys skulking in the corners as far as I’m concerned. Hell, the more faces the merrier.

  • Posted February 8, 2010 at 11:40 am |

    I’d like to throw my penny’s worth in to the ring:

    I’m not complaining, I’m heartened by the positive review my band Savile Row (i’m the bass player) received.

    Just one small concern: I believe Steampunk was never associated with Punk music. One of the first ‘Steampunk’ experiences I had was playing ‘The Chaos Engine’ on my Megadrive roughly 20 years ago. There was no punk music in that?

    Listen to another Steampunk band ‘Sunday Driver’ and see if they are ‘Punk’ too.

    Apart from that, a positive review! Cheers!

    Scott.

  • Von
    Posted February 8, 2010 at 2:42 pm |

    This’ll teach me to write a review that isn’t all joy and circle jerk.

    The Men are a good band. No question there. But they were 75% band and 25% jokes. C’mon. They were. This means that they are at least a bit of a joke-band.

    At least I came to the event. I enjoyed it. I took photos (Gallery soon) and I reviewed it.

    If I had a sense of smug superiority I could have pointed and laughed. (or picked holes in an all together positive review!)

    And being a music journo of some kind means a perogative to put things in genres and make new ones up. It’s part of the fun.

    Anyway. More comments please.

  • Posted February 8, 2010 at 3:03 pm |

    I reckon, right, that with Steampunk and it’s progenitor Cyberpunk (not to mention stitchpunk et al), there isn’t enough emphasis on the punk, I reckon any scene involving riveted brass mohawks would be the balls!

  • Posted February 8, 2010 at 3:19 pm |

    “This’ll teach me to write a review that isn’t all joy and circle jerk. ”

    It should teach you to get a better editor.

    But thank you for listening and defending what you wrote. Yeah, the men had jokes and that’s part of who they are. The way you wrote it made it seem like that was all they were.

    The ‘punk’ in Steampunk is less about Mohawks and more about anarchy–that is, the right for every individual to decide the course of their own lives, free from the interference of government, companies or religious dogma. In practice, it means being self-sufficient, self-aware and self-motivated. You want something to happen? Go out and make it happen.

    Mind you, a riveted brass Mohawk would be cool.

  • Posted February 8, 2010 at 3:26 pm |

    so..erm..they had jokes but that’s part of who they are…but they aren’t a funny band…and punks about anarchy not punk music…although punk music was about anarchy…and so is steampunk music…but it’s not about punk…

    *head explodes*

  • Posted February 8, 2010 at 3:37 pm |

    One of the guys there that night described is as, ‘kind of like punk before the Sex Pistols came along’. What the hell is punk music, anyway? The Sex Pistols and Dead Kennedies? Green Day? New York Dolls? Punk music, surely, is music made by and for punks. Punks (supposedly) believe in a form of anarchy, of freedom and self-determination. So, if people who believe in those values make music for people with those values and call themselves punks, then surely it’s punk, whether is sounds like Napalm Death or Bob Dylan.

    You can’t call yourself an anarchist and then go around telling people they don’t sound enough like the sort of music you like to be anarachist muscians.

  • Posted February 8, 2010 at 3:47 pm |

    I thought punk just meant not giving a fuck for the rules.

  • Von
    Posted February 8, 2010 at 3:53 pm |

    I AM THE EDITOR!

  • Posted February 8, 2010 at 3:53 pm |

    If that’s the case, then how can you have a defined ‘punk music’?

  • Posted February 8, 2010 at 4:12 pm |

    listen, at the risk of stirring trouble (rubs hand together…) – Steampunk is a self-motivated anarchist movement promoting self government? Is it fuck mate. It’s about wondering what would happen if we all still used airships and coal.

  • Posted February 8, 2010 at 4:25 pm |

    *laughs*

    Let’s just say opinion within the community is divided.

    As evidence for the defence, I submit Steampunk Magazine (www.steampunkmagazine.com).

    Evidence for the prosecution? Weeelll, any of those tits who buy their gear pre-made and whine about how much it costs to be a Steampunk.

  • Posted February 9, 2010 at 7:18 pm |

    Well I enjoyed the review and I certainly enjoyed the London STeampunk Spectaculr. You manage to make clear how steampunk is not looking for a defining sound but is keen to be a scene that embraces a creative and eclectic variety in a way which means anyone can enjoy what’s going on and not feel they have to be pigeohnoled or buy into any particular aspect. Steampunk is about creativity and rebellion can beagainst artifical barriers and definitions just as it can be about social moires and fashions. A great night and may we have many many more of them.

  • Posted February 10, 2010 at 11:51 am |

    Well said that man! I still say it’s about brass rivets and Skyships though…

  • Posted February 10, 2010 at 7:19 pm |

    At first glance it may seem that way especially if you are taken in by the massive amounts of stuff on the internet from the US. UK steampunk is a lot more gritty, a lot more relevant and (at the risk of sounding snobbish) a heck of a lot more stylish over here. Try out some more gigs or maybe even the Asylum steampunk festival and maybe you’ll have your eyes opened.

  • Posted February 11, 2010 at 1:43 pm |

    to be fair Tinker, can you think of anything from the UK that isn’t a hell of a lot more stylish than it’s US counterpart?!

  • Posted February 11, 2010 at 1:49 pm |

    That does raise the question of whether chavs are more stylish than redneck white trash…

  • Posted February 11, 2010 at 2:38 pm |

    good point -a confederate flag shirt with the sleeves ripped off beats a Fitch hoodie hand’s down! Well done rednecks of the boondocks, you’ve done your countrymen proud!

  • Posted February 13, 2010 at 12:13 pm |

    Point taken gentlemen but at the risk of hijacking a phrase from a wouldbe street artiste turned mainstream actor:

    “The difference is we make this look good!”

    Still a commendable review. Where’s this gallery then Von?

  • Von
    Posted February 14, 2010 at 10:57 pm |

    Bah! Know how long it takes to resize, reformat and upload 20 pictures? A long time! Soon!

  • Posted February 15, 2010 at 12:25 am |

    I understand entirely – haven’t posted my pics either!?! Mind you I didn’t get chance to take many… that’s why I look forward to seeing yours.

  • Posted September 28, 2010 at 4:21 am |

    Great review. Looks like good times :)

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