Saturday April 20th saw Gearbox Fantastique 3, the Steampunk Chicago Spring extravaganza. Hosted at Reggie’s Music Joint at 2109 S. State Street (that great street), it was just a hop, skip and a jump away from Chicago’s famed Chinatown.
The MC for the evening was performer, pirate and funny man Thee Bluebeard! When he wasn’t throwing witticisms to the audience, he was in the audience with kilt a-twirl. The azure buccaneer introduced the rapid succession of acts. Each act gave two performances staggered over the evening, providing a blink-and-you-might-miss-something-wonderful atmosphere.
The crowd clapped, jived and cut a rug to the live electro swing of Palermo, Sicily’s The Swingrowers. We were delighted by the vocals of the lovely and stylish Loredana Grimaudo, the Django Reinhardt guitar work of Alessio Costagliola and the electronics (and Vocoder scatting) of DJ Roberto Costa (PiSk). They swung through on their first American and Canadian tour.
I had been eagerly anticipating Crystal Bright & The Silver Hands from Greensboro, NC. I first saw them at the Midsummer Night’s Steam in Atlanta in 2012. Their kaleidophrenic cabaret brought joy and an ululating singalong on “Especially Your Mother”.
As is the Gearbox Fantastique custom, the evening was filled with burlesque & sideshow & performances. There was an air of danger (or at least suspended disbelief) and whole lot of what Pepe Le Pew might call “Le Rowr Rowr.”
Male belly dancer Lee Na-Moo added a different spin. If I want to over-intellectualize the performance, I would say that the lack of womanly hips was the game changer. It made the routine focus on the undulating abdomen and the tippy-toe gliding across the stage.
Sanjula Vamana Removed the safety screens from a box fan, fed a carrot through the blades. Pieces flew over the audience. Then he stopped it with his tongue. Then, with his penis. He also escaped being shackled in a wheelchair and strapped in a straightjacket.
Sexy-scary dancer Red Rum burlesque to a metallic grind and Billy Idols “Eyes without a Face”, drank a chalice of corn syrup blood and let it dribble down her chin and chest. At least I think it was corn syrup. Please say it was corn syrup.
Nooks and crannies were filled with eclectic electro swing, gypsy punk, blues and steampunk music by The Lords & Ladies DJs. I’m partial to them, largely because I’m one of the Lords.
Special thanks go to the Lord Baron Vourteque for producing and promoting the show.
This recap first appeared on steampunkchronicle.com.