all words: Katie Glanz
all (very necessary) photos: Katherine Gaines
This show was a deliciously sinful Valentine’s Day crumpet. If you haven’t heard of Emilie Autumn, the following is the best description I can offer. However, it will not do her justice. Should you ever have the opportunity to see her perform, do it, unless, for some reason you don’t want to enjoy an evening of burlesque dancing, electric violin, weapons, and flirtatious jokes about sex and death and ABC tea and cookies.
Emilie Autumn has an interesting history, a history befitting a glam rockstar. She has the looks of a ghostly little fairy and is an extremely talented violinist. She has also toured with Courtney Love as a back-up signer and has recorded violin and vocals for Billy Corgan. And, she has um, street cred. She is tough; she’s been institutionalized for bipolar disorder and has written about her struggles with mental illness in an autobiography entitled, The Asylum for Wayward Victorian Girls. She seems to have it all. She’s pretty, Thank God, talented, and has pioneered a unique sound and style she calls “Psychotic Vaudeville Burlesque.”
So of course I was looking forward to seeing this show.
I had never seen Rock and Roll Hotel so packed full. Full of gothy Virginians and tweens. I’m not complaining, this seemed totally appropriate, and I thoroughly enjoyed my little chat with a father and his dolled-up teen daughter, who by the way, was accessorized to the teeth with Nightmare Before Christmas paraphernalia, and had the cutest Manic Panic red hair ever.
We all waited in a ridiculously long line, and ended up being let in a few minutes late. The show had already started, and E. A. as Emilie Autumn is affectionately referred to by her fans, had taken the stage. She was accompanied by her very sexy and very scantily clad partners, the “Bloody Crumpets,” Naughty Veronica, Captain Maggot, and the Blessed Contessa. All of the ladies were decked out in Victorian-esque burlesque garb and were brandishing blood-covered knives. Just your standard “Victoriandustrial” rock show.
Autumn started out with “I Want My Innocence Back” and “Liar,” both songs off her rereleased 2009 album Opheliac. These were interesting tunes, and very characteristic of Autumn’s industrial/cabaret style.
The evening progressed with sexual innuendoes, implied cannibalism, and a pseudo strip-tease. In keeping with the spirit of burlesque, I don’t want to give it all away, best to keep some things to the imagination. There was an interesting “Rat Game” which had very little to do with rats…and everything to do with “corrupting” an audience member.
We were treated to a very impressive electric violin solo, a piece Emilie said would be retired after that night. This was Emilie’s rock statement- to prove that “violin is the new guitar.”
Then a curious thing happened. “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Now, when “Bohemian Rhapsody,” happens I typically like to be a few beers in and surrounded by close friends with greasy hair and university hoodies. This Emilie Autumn rendition was a little different.
It was cool, unusual, and clever, and included a remixed background track and an electric violin solo. But, this wasn’t my favorite moment of the night. I guess I’m a traditionalist when it comes to anything involving Freddie Mercury. I don’t think I would be impressed by any non-Freddie version of this so oft covered song. Some things are just too sacred to be touched.
Emilie and her dancing ladies said good night and tromped off stage around ten thirty. Autumn returned only moments later to perform the encore “Thank God I’m Pretty.” Yep, this song pretty much sums it up. Emilie Autumn is seriously gifted. She has an eye for unique gothy style, mad violinist skills, and a knack for knowing what kids these days want in the way of angsty music.
All that said, it is true, given her striking beauty, people will probably always question her creations and abilities. Could she really have been so successful if she was…unattractive? I’m not sure and I don’t really want to dwell on it, but as a woman, feminist, and a fan of evil tea and cookies, I’d like to think so.