This weekend I attended another Abney Park concert. I think it’s my SIXTH, and this one was absolutely wonderful. Definitely my second favorite (my first favorite will always be my first AP concert.) The energy was just electric, and everyone was having such an awesome time. Whenever I looked around, there was the biggest smile on everyone’s face.
The venue itself was amazing – it was the first live performance ever at the Bellingham Spark museum, and what perfect surroundings for steampunk! Before the concert we toured the museum, and there were tons of cool displays, many interactive.
The opening band was Adrian H and the Wounds. I enjoyed their music, although probably not well enough to buy a CD.
But then Abney Park came on stage. And wow. This was my first time seeing the new guys in person (Josh and Titus replacing Nathaniel who left to start his own band.) They couldn’t match Nathaniel’s flamboyance (who could?) but they were excellent musicians and nicely interactive with the crowd, as are all the other band members. During several songs one or more of them would jump off the stage and come play, sing, or dance with us.
As always, I try to film more of the between-songs moments, rather than the songs themselves! For one thing, I am always pressed up against the stage, as close as I can get, and my camera doesn’t record sound well when I’m that close to the equipment. For another, I love the between-songs moments…you never know what you’re going to get!
Between AP sets, the museum put on a Tesla coil demonstration. Very cool. It was amazing to see light bulbs lighting up just from being held close to the coil! Unfortunately for AP, this demonstration fried their computer’s motherboard – but it wouldn’t be an AP concert if something didn’t break/go horribly wrong. It’s all part of the fun, as Jody led a raid on the bar while Robert was trying to save the computer. The problem was solved, and the concert continued to its glorious ending….far too soon.
After the show, I met up with Robert and got him to sign my copy of his book The Wrath of Fate to me. I’d ordered a signed/numbered copy of his book the instant it was released, and had been surprised that I’d gotten copy #2 out of 300. Robert was impressed with my purchasing prowess; so impressed that he called Kristina over to see it. She said she was always afraid she was going to screw up the numbers when she was writing them in, and he said he was always afraid that the #2 book was going to get lost in the mail, and then what would he do? Send out another and say “Here you are – another #2!!!” I had him sign the book to my nickname “Lis” and he said that was his sister’s name, and he’d never met another person called that. So that was cool, too.
And of course I got a pic with him.
I’m wearing my Steampunk NeoBedouin costume – which is actually based off the description in Robert’s book. I had meant to tell him that, but we were so busy talking about other things, that I never got around to it. As much as I would’ve enjoyed it, I couldn’t monopolize him all night!
There is more about my costume, including more pics and a making-of, here,here, and here, on my costuming blog. The costume did get recognized several times by fellow fans who would come up to me and shout “NeoBedouin!!!!”. Which was awesome.
All-in-all, it was a fantastic night, and it definitely will not be my last AP concert.
I went to my first Steamcon last weekend, and I already know it won’t be my last! It was so much fun; the panels, guests, and people-watching were top-notch.
Here are a few of my adventures, along with a few photos.
First off, I was severely sleep-deprived when we arrived on Friday because I’d been up until about 3am the night before attending the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows midnight premiere. (I’ll do a separate blog about that night later on.) We get to the Hilton in Seattle and get checked *just* in time for the first panel I really wanted to see. I’m a huge League of Steam fan, and was delighted to hear a few of the members had flown up to Seattle. Their first panel was pretty much an introduction to who they are and what they do. If you haven’t watched any of their short films, you need to check them out on youtube. They are seriously the definition of everything cool about steampunk! Their gear is absolutely amazing. Everything ‘works’, from the baby eel shock-prong, to the net gun, to the plunger-canon!
They also have amazing costumes:
This is their zombie expert, Baron Von Fogel. His most awesome bit of equipment is his hand-crank chainsaw.
Ghostbuster Crackitus Potts (shown here holding his baby eel shock prod – which actually does deliver shocks, as testified by brave members of the audience):
LadyAmeliorette Potts, his wife, also came, but by the second day was strangely absent, and in her place was one of the female ghosts who haunt the League of Steam:
Her costume was absolutely to-die for, with so much incredible detail. I took many close-up pics, and will post them on my costume blog, Dragonfly Designs by Alisa. In the background, you can see the fourth member of the League, Zedediah. He is a domesticated zombie, and very well-behaved. If anyone was attacked, the evidence must have been cleared away quickly, because I saw no sign of mayhem whatsoever.
This guy was really amazing. He staying in character the entire day, complete with eyes rolled back and drool.
On one of their other panels (shared by a genuine ghost-investigator), Potts took the opportunity to demonstrate his ghostbusting skills:
Friday evening was the Singalong with Abney Park. Unfortunately, Abney Park was “unable to make it”, so they dredged up a last minute replacement band: Ranch Hand Robbie and his Wranglers! It was hilarious to watch them attempt to stay in character as they “covered” their own songs.
I wore my Zombie Hunter outfit:
The second day (Saturday) I wore my Steampunk Geisha costume, which proved to be the most popular costume I’ve ever made!
It was difficult to walk more than a few feet without being asked to stop for a photo, and once I was stopped by one person, it quickly turned into a mob scene – I was instantly surrounded by cameras! I truly felt like a celebrity in this dress! I was even given an award ribbon by the Rose City Steampunks for “thinking outside the box” and “wearing a color other than brown”. 😀
One guy said there had actually been a panel earlier in which they had discussed what a ‘steampunk geisha’ costume might look like. How funny if I’d managed to attend it in this outfit!
One of Saturday’s outstanding panels was the one with Abney Park. Despite it being “early morning” (1pm!) they were awesome. They told so many great tales, like Dan’s accidental arrest for convenience store armed robbery…
I was too busy laughing to take video, but someone else did:
They were having so much fun they went over their time, and I had to walk out before it was quite over in order to meet my friend Mike for the High Tea and Fashion Show at 2pm.
The High Tea setting was gorgeous, with white linen and candles. They served ham and salmon tea sandwiches, mini quiches, and for dessert, mini petit fours, cream puffs, and mini eclairs. The menu and schedule they handed out was gorgeous too:
We chose seats right up against the catwalk, and by chance the lady who took the seat next to mine was the wife of writer James Blaylock, the Steamcon guest of honor! She and her husband were wonderful tea companions; during the fashion show, she kept leaning over to whisper: “Could I commission you to make THAT for me???” 😀 Too bad I don’t actually take costuming commissions, or I’d have had work for months – she had a serious case of costume-envy, after seeing all the great steampunk outfits all day!
Unfortunately, they didn’t allow any photography inside the tea room, but the fashion show was great fun. Especially the designs from Lastwear. They had their models act out little skits as they walked the runway! I did find this photographer’s page with photos of the fashion show. If you go about 1/3 of the way down the page, you’ll find a guy wearing a black cap with goggles, a black jacket, and a red kerchief around his neck. He was particular fun for me, since he stopped right at our table, crouched down, made very intense eye contact with me, and proceeded to silently flirt. When he left, Mrs Blaylock leaned over to comment that he had ‘wonderful eyes’. Yes. Yes he did! *blush*
Saturday evening was the big concert. None of us thought very much of the opening band (Bakelite 78) but the second band, Ghoultown, was very good. I think I’ll get one of their CDs. The headliner was Abney Park, and they were excellent as always, even though they were plagued with technical difficulties with Kristina’s keyboard. (Like one of the fans shouted, it isn’t a real AP concert unless something breaks….)
Sunday I wore my Saloon Girl outfit.
I posed for more photo-ops, and had girls chase me down so they could pet my shoulder martin. Also, I was reminded of an occurrence that happens only at costume-type cons: mutual butt fondling! Yep, get two or more ladies wearing bustles together, and pretty soon it becomes a free-for-all, as everyone wants to examine the construction of everyone else’s bustle! 😀
Late afternoon it started to SNOW, and the con cleared out fast, as all the panels were pretty much over, as no one wanted to get stuck in Seattle! This is also when I discovered that semi-skimpy saloon girl outfits don’t do well in snow – gads, that was a cold walk to our car!
My favorite panels ended up being:
Steampunk Ghost Hunting (funny AND informative!)
Eureka it Works! (that fabulous League of Steam & their equipment)
Victorian Undergarments (they had actual extant corsets, bustles, and petticoats to pass around for the audience to examine)
The Abney Park panel (well, of course!)
The Art and Science of Fencing (Knives, swords, and live dueling, what’s not to love?)
Perhaps the best part of any con is the people-watching. Next, I give you some of the most awesome and fun costumes that other people were wearing:
This guy’s costume was flippin’ amazing. I wish it showed in the pic, but inside the cage was a fairy. And she moved, flying up and down in the most lifelike manner. I don’t know how he did it, but it was GREAT.
Best wings ever. They actually extended and retracted!
This guy’s hat lighted up in several amazing ways. And besides that, he was just one of those really nice people that are such a pleasure to meet at cons. We took pictures of each other, and then (since I was in my geisha outfit) a crowd gathered and we ended up posing together for several minutes worth of pictures.
I have a love for mechanical arms. This guy had one of the best.
Mechanical arms aren’t amazing enough for you? How about a mechanical ostrich???
Another pair of wings, and a guy whose costume is just generally cool. Back view:
And front view:
A mechanical dog that moves, lights up, and barks. It reminds me of the Doctor’s K9.
How can you not love a guy with an octopus on his shoulder? It’s so elegant!
Here’s another one that the picture doesn’t do it justice. At all. This is an articulated dragon, with “fire” in all its joints and under its scales. So cool!
I don’t quite know who/what this girl was, but anyone who carries a glowing green brain around on their back is seriously cool!
Great fun was had, and I’m going back next year for sure – I already have costume ideas flooding my own (hopefully non green and glowing) brain!
Also, we are SO GLAD the con ended when it did, because today (Monday) Seattle is an absolute mess because of the snow. If the snow had begun day or two earlier, it would probably have been canceled!
Steampunk is addicting, and it spreads like a virus. Witness what happens when ONE librarian girl (me) is infected with steampunk love.
Yes, it starts spreading through the library! All but one of those people looking at you is a librarian girl or guy (excepting the guy in the blue jacket – I have no idea who he is, but he seems to want to join our group!). Two of these newbies put together their steampunk outfits on their own, and are already talking about future steampunk outfits. Here we’re waiting in line to get into Studio 7 in Seattle, where Abney Park is going to put on their second Circus at the End of the World.
When we get inside, we fail to snag my preferred standing area – right up against the stage on Nathaniel’s side. I have a deep weakness for kilted, violin-playing men!
But, we are not too late to be up against the stage on bass guitarist Daniel’s side. This is also cool, though the bass plays havoc with my camera’s video recording capabilities, as you’ll hear when we get to the video portion of this blog….
Being so close to Daniel gave me an opportunity to study out his costume, though, and now I’m definitely inspired to sculpt him as a penguin. (I’ve already done Captain Robert – who can resist a penguin in leather with spiked hair?)
Also we were closer on this side to the new back-up singer, Jody Ellen, who is AWESOME.
As with any Abney Park show many, many things went wrong. The lights went out on stage during “Airship Pirates”, Robert forgot a few more lyrics, and he totally demolished his new mic. You know, the ‘sturdy’ one he built to withstand stage performance? 🙂 I hope he can fix it, because this mic was Made of Win. It wouldn’t be an Abney Park show if these small disasters didn’t strike!
We also were treated to several ‘circus’ acts, including a gorgeous fire dancer.
After the show, we met Nathaniel and Daniel outside, and they posed for pictures with me. Also completely par the course when I meet these guys, I had a camera malfunction – this time I forgot I’d turned my flash off, so the pictures turned out very….grim.
They both liked my ‘zombie hunter’ outfit, and Daniel even bragged to Nathaniel that I was ‘his fan’ because I’d stood at his side of the stage (awesome that he saw and remembered me!). Nathaniel said I’d have to be on his side for the next show! And then my friend Bonnie was rewarded with one of Nathaniel’s ‘epic hugs’ for taking the picture of us!
Below is video of “Building Steam”. At the very beginning, you’ll see that the mic manages to get in one good swing at Robert before Robert demolishes it!
Here are two videos of the fire dancers/eaters. Pretty awesome – wish I could do this! During one of these performances, Robert’s lyric cheat sheet was nearly burned. That would have made for an interesting second half to the show….
There was also a lovely lady in a hoop. I was so very envious of her boots….
And as one of the final performances (and according to Daniel performed this one time only!) Robert sang his April Fool’s Joke. (He had told the fans on April Fools that he was done with Abney Park and steampunk, and was going solo as a post-apocalyptic country-western singer named ‘Ranch Hand Robbie”. Best April Fool’s ever.)
Here is Ranch Hand Robbie (at the beginning he’s trying to repair his broken mic with a tool borrowed from a fan):
Abney Park is finally having another show in Seattle. And according to Nathaniel’s twitter, they JUST MIGHT be premiering a brand new song, just written. And according to Robert’s twitter, it’s the saddest song ever. So far “Victoria” has the Abney Park crown as the “saddest song ever”, and it’s one of my personal favorites. Yay for sad AP songs!
This year, most of the crew is coming – yes, I’ve managed to convert/infect a goodly portion of my friends with not only Abney Park, but also Steampunk. One has just bought his first pair of goggles (Mike, I’m so proud!), one is sewing something steampunk from her first-ever costume pattern, and we’re going shopping at Value Village for the rest. We’re such a large group we’ve had to rent a van to transport us all, and that’s not counting the few who are driving themselves.
If you’re reading this and you’ve not seen an Abney Park show, you’re missing out on something fabulous. Besides the pure awesomeness of the band, they also bring in fire-dancers, aerialists – it is truly spectacular. Details on purchasing tickets can be found here.
Cool thing number two:
I discovered this blog by accident. It’s a year-long experiment by a self-described “painfully shy girl”. She decided to go on a quest to do 250 completely uncharacteristic things before August 23, 2010. She’s a terrific writer, and her posts are heart-felt and fascinating. My favorite is this one, where, after quitting smoking she decides to take regular “bubble breaks” and manages to create a little wonder and magic in her neighborhood. Go read it. I think it will touch you as it touched me.
And lastly, apparently I should be blogging more about “mythological creatures”, because everyday, without fail, I get a ton of hits for that search – pretty funny, considering I’ve only written about that subject once!
As I’ve mentioned before, I went to FaerieWorld’s Winter Celebration this January. It was held in Eugene OR, which is a loooong drive from where I live. So long, in fact, that we decided to take the train. Amtrak was late arriving (as bloody usual) making us about two hours late getting in to Eugene. It was 7:30 when our hotel shuttle picked us up at the station, and guess what? The Good Faeries Ball began at 7:30. Not good. The shuttle guy offered to drop us at the theater and take our luggage back to the hotel, but we were starved, exhausted, and not in costume. So since none of the performers at the Good Faeries Ball were especially exciting to us (we were mostly going for the Bad Faeries Ball), we decided to skip it.
The next day, we hit the daytime Faeriewords events, which were slightly underwhelming, but I did have the whole ‘celebrity experience’ – everyone gathering around me like I was famous and wanting to take my picture, so it wasn’t a total loss! 🙂 This steampunk outfit I put together is definitely one of my most popular ever – and people adored the wings.
I call it the “Mistress of Time” aka the Time Faerie, because it has all sorts of time-y details: watches, bottles of the ‘sands of time’ and all sorts of other awesome things. For more pictures, and a making-of, you can check out my other blog: Dragonfly Designs by Alisa. This costume is on the page called “Black and White Steampunk”.
My brother Jon, who came with me, also had his costume. I made the half mask and the goggles. The goggles are ‘Captain Robert’ approved; when I met him after the show, he complimented Jon on the goggles! I’ll be putting the half mask up for sale; if anyone who’s reading this is interested, leave me a comment!
The second evening went much better; in fact it was pure fabulous fun! The ‘Bad Faeries Ball’ was the real reason we’d gone to Eugene in the first place. There were two bands that performed. The second, Beats Antique, was awesome. I didn’t take this video (Jon forgot to bring his video camera!) but here’s the sound:
Dancing to their music was Tribal Belly Dancer, Zoe Jakes, who was awesome. I love the tribal style, and Zoe was as good as any of the big names, like Sharon Kihara or Rachel Brice. And since I was right up against the stage (I could not have gotten any closer) she was right there. When she danced with a huge pair of feather fans, she touched my face! Again, this is not my video, but here she is dancing:
But before Beats Antique, there was….Abney Park. I could not love this band any more than I do. Their sound is so unusual, and the member themselves are so creative. The lead singer, “Captain Robert” not only makes all the band’s awesome steampunk’d instruments, but he also made his own striped pants with tape and spray paint! What costumer couldn’t love a guy like that??? 🙂
I met Daniel’s daughter, Lilli, before the show. She’s so cute, and she loved my wings. During the song where the guitarist/violinist Nathaniel needs someone to hold his violin (he trades back and forth rapidly between the two instruments) Robert pulled Lilli up onto the stage.
She (not surprisingly) was more interested in watching her dad than in watching for Nathaniel’s cues!
Afterward, she danced with Robert’s wife (keyboardist Kristina) while Robert looked on and smiled.
Then the two guitarists had a battle (Nathaniel and Daniel)….
And I think Nathaniel thinks he won….
Robert became jealous of Nathaniel’s coolness and tried a bit of air/mike guitar:
This was the first show I’d seen since their fabulous dancer/backup singer quit, so I was slightly nervous about how I’d like the new girl, Jody Ellen. I shouldn’t have worried. She was perfect for them, so full of energy and fun.
Robert and his family had only just returned from several weeks’ vacation, and I think he still had a bit of ‘vacation brain’ happening, because he brought along a cheat sheet of lyrics for ‘Aether Shanty’ – which has, in his words, “really long words”! Really long words didn’t explain why he also forgot the lyrics to “Airship Pirates”. He stopped midsong, laughing, and asked for a volunteer from the audience to help him out. Turns out, that the volunteer (though very excited to be on stage) didn’t know the lyrics either! Not my video, but here’s the song as it turned out:
After the show, I met the band, got a CD signed for my friend Bonnie, and introduced myself to Robert as the fan who sculpted him in miniature. His “action figure” as he called it! He remembered me, said he LOVED it, and grabbed the rest of the band to tell them that “This is her! She’s the one who made it!”
So I got a picture with him (which unfortunately didn’t turn out well – but hey, that’s only an excuse to snuggle up with him next time, right???)
These guys are amazing. The amount of detail each member of the League of Steam puts into their character, costume, and weaponry is incredible. The technology actually functions…as was demonstrated at an Abney Park concert….
And now they’ve branched out into a hilarious youtube video series!
It seems like lately I’ve been coming across all these Awesome Things of Win, and thinking that I needed to blog about them. But instead I end up checking my facebook and going to bed. I now have a massive backlog, and since bed is still a good 5 – 6 hours away, I’m going to play a bit of catch-up.
First off, an Abney Park update.
It was the squee heard ’round the world when Captain Robert updated his livejournal to announce the new album was DONE. Yes! And not only DONE, but slated to be released around the 14th of this month. Guess who is not only buying a copy for herself, instantly, but is also buying a few more for Christmas gifts? Yup. How can you resist giving the gift of steampunk to your nearest and dearest?
Second, (and equally dear to my heart) is a David Tennant update. While this didn’t quite rate a squee, it did get a gasp of surprise that bought the family over to the computer to see what I was surfing.
His next project will be playing a lawyer on AMERICAN TV. Which accent will he use? I’m rooting for his natural Scottish one. Plus, is there any chance at all NBC will make him wear a kilt? I guarantee it will raise the ratings among the female demographic!
And now, a bit of shopping. Etsy has such awesome stores. Too bad I personally can’t afford anything in this store. Their steampunk-inspired stuff is bloody fabulous. Look at this:
I think I’m going to have to stop thinking about taking up leatherwork, and just buy me a piece of leather.
Masks, chokers, bracelets, and all manner of tatted goodness. Check out her ankle-wear:
And then there’s the absolutely freaking fabulous steampunk store, Clockwork Couture. I am always in love with the fashion I find on this site, but was particularly struck by this new piece: The Time Traveler’s Corset.
Newspaper! With keys and other things attached!
And lastly, speaking of time travel, one of the few ways we can do it is through films. I was delighted when the creator of this highly useful blog found me on my dress diary site, and introduced me to it. She tracks period films, both released and upcoming, on tv and in the theater. She has interviews with actors, trailers, rumors, and photographs. For a costumer, this site is pure gold. My favorite feature is the “latest news and upcoming films” feature. Here’s just a tiny glimpse of the films on the list:
Cleo – a musical version of the story of Cleopatra, set in the 1920’s. I don’t know about you, but this just fills me with glee.
Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. It has a release date of 2010, and it’s based on one of the best and most perfect novels ever written.
Upstairs, Downstairs. They’re doing a re-make! Yes!!!!!
The Queen. This is a miniseries event about the life of Queen Elizabeth II, staring 5 different actresses (to play her at different decades in her life) and set to air this month. In the UK, of course, but hopefully it’ll come either to BBC America or at least to DVD.
And the list of films goes on and on. It’s brilliant!
Last post, I showed you pics of my art-in-progress, my little mostly finished free-sculpt of Captain Robert from Abney Park.
Today, I finished him:
Here he is and ain’t he cute? I posted more pictures on my website. And then, I emailed the real Captain Robert and gave him the link. I thought he might get a kick out of seeing his mini-self, but I was surprised to get an email immediately back from him, saying it was ‘awesome’ and asking me if it would be okay if he re-posted the pictures.
Would it be okay? You’re kiddin’ me, right? 🙂
So he blogged about it, sent it around in his email newsletter, and (I suspect from the HUGE amount of clicks sent my way from Facebook), posted it there as well. He says it makes him “happier than he can say“. Aw. If I wasn’t already a huge fan, I would be now….
So over in Germany, they have this fantastic idea. They shove bookcases full of books out onto the sidewalks, fill them with books, and let the community read. Anyone is free to browse and take books (they only ask that you gift a few books of your own in return to keep the shelves stocked). I love this!