NEW YORK, NY—An “Oh shit” slipped from my lips as the brawny watchdogs (a.k.a. security guards) at the front doors of Le Poisson Rouge informed me that there were only 15 minutes left to the main act’s set—a quirky dark cabaret/cello band better known as Brooklyn’s own Rasputina. Thinking I had somehow unknowingly blacked out for two hours as I traveled within the thick summer stench wafting within the Path train while I made my way to Ninth Street’s Greenwich Village, I inspected my wristwatch for some kind of reasonable explanation. But that only brought about more confusion, as the hands indicated it was only 9:50 p.m. My mental clock had become accustomed to the fact that most headlining bands usually do not grace the stage until at least 10 p.m., so the cluster-fucked situation was totally my fault. Luckily, the trippy threesome performed a four-act encore on top of their scheduled set list, providing a hearty helping of musical nourishment for the cells in my temporal lobe to chomp on—and giving me a formidable amount of time to write the review you are about to read without it only consisting of three songs. Hallelujah!
Rasputina—comprised of vocalist/cellist Melora Creager, cellist Daniel DeJesus and drummer Catie D’Amica—played to a packed house during the sweltering Saturday night on July 11. And I must say: I’ve been to many, many shows throughout my life, but never have I seen such a diversely mixed audience as I did for this group’s show. There were hipsters and goths, punks and hippies, all who gathered together in peaceful harmony to catch a bit of the sweet symphonic bliss brought to them by Rasputina. There was even a drag queen with gnarly rainbow-colored dreads (with platform boots so high they’d make any member of rock band KISS jealous) who was swaying to the tunes and charging five bucks for photo ops (which might have been used for drinks, or at least that’s what I would have done).
The band—which the only original member, Creager, formed in 1991—is notoriously known for their atypical signature sound, flare for daring fashion, and obsession with all things historically Victorian. In other words, the band is entertaining both musically and visually. Creager, who adorned a white and black feather within her retro chic, pulled back hair, belted out haunting vocals while the strings on her cello wept with each stroke she made them endure. DeJesus wore a sequined and feathered masquerade mask throughout the performance, an extra prop with the potential to visually impair someone less familiar with the instrument he played. The latter did not apply to him, as DeJesus provided beautiful backup cello throughout the night. D’Amica simply wore her beauty, and provided percussion on her drum set that blended seamlessly within each darkly sweet tune, often interchanging between drumsticks and mallets for individual songs.
Rasputina performed a variety of works that spanned throughout their almost 20-year career, yet most were from earlier creations released in the ‘90s from such albums as Thanks For The Ether and How We Quit The Forest. Between tracks, Creager bantered with the audience and shared peculiar stories of Rasputina’s musical life. One such narrative took place in the ‘90s when the band opened for Porno for Pyros and tried to get into the show’s after party, thrown by Mia Farrow —ironically at the very same location the group played in this night. According to Creager, as they knocked on the door where the celebration was being held, a man stuck his head out and refused to let them in, even though they performed for the opening act. The travesty in the tale prompted a loud, “Fuck him!” from a male member in the audience, to which Creager chuckled and continued on to the next song.
Although the songs were more sedated and drowsy compared to the kind of raucous music I would usually violate myself with during the weekend (at one point, I was so relaxed during the performance that I almost jumped out of my skin when a show attendee, who stood on a bar stool to catch a better glimpse of the band, caused a slight commotion when the chair and herself fell over), the melodies were charming and the band’s company was enjoyable. Brooklyn should be proud that they have such a fine act to boast about.