Burlesque, sideshow, psychobilly, and an audience full of derby girls: These sorts of pop-deviant performances are what Red Palace has become known for, so it was a natural waypoint as The Coney Island Road Show leaves behind its home base in New York and Connecticut and begins a new tour. The ensemble of performers bills themselves as a variety show, but the emphasis was on the rockabilly/psychobilly bands that comprised the bulk of the event.
It’s kind of amazing the show happened at all. Members of the headlining band told me their trip from Connecticut to DC took over 12 hours thanks to aftermath of Hurricane Franken-Sandy.
The show opened with JJ Damage & the Bandits, a local psychobilly band fronted by a gravely-voiced singer.
In between bands, Drew Reynolds of Canivalesque, a Charleston, South Carolina variety outfit, ripped a phone book in half and bent bar around neck. These are sideshow clichés, but still really shocking to witness in person. Candy del Rio, one of DC’s burlesque queens, also teased the audience for a few minutes.
Next, Arkhem took the stage. The NYC-based rockabilly band featured a lead-singing bassist and a big doofy-looking guitarist who jumped around a lot and rocked his tele. All sported this weirdly unfashionable preppy style (complete with cargo pants) reminiscent of Clarendon’s finest. It was sort anti- or post-hipster, which, naturally, antagonized my hipster sensibilities.
Following Arkhem’s set, Carnivalesque’s J Honea suspended a cinderblock from his ears and Evelyn DeVere danced burlesque.
The show’s headliner act, Tigeriss, came next with a set of no-nonsense rock ‘n roll that was simple and earnest. Lara Hope’s vocals were the stand out part of the act, though the music got a bit interesting at the end when they added a banjo into the mix. The set was at least as entertaining as the rather public argument the band was having earlier while I ate my dinner at the bar.
The show ended with repeat performances by all the burlesque and sideshow performers. Of particular note was a dance by Evelyn DeVere where she candles out in front of her as she moved about the stage. Eventually, she set the candles down and began to remove panels of cloth from her elastic-frame costume until nothing was left but cloth bands and bare skin.
As the show came to a close, J Honea gave the audience one final opportunity to satisfy some sadistic desires (and tips the performers) by stapling money to various parts of his body—the higher the denomination, the more painful the location. I left wanting to vomit.
And now, some more photos: