I had already missed The Decemberists due to Pope Francis being in town. For the record, I made my plans first and thus got to flush another ridiculous amount of money down the drain in the attempt to see them and being thwarted by ridiculous traffic patterns. Although, I did wind up engaged to Jow after our first miss and he keeps staying married to me, despite his best interests so that’s a win.
I had done NYC and Philly’s Pagan Pride and got to meet some lovely Charmers who were v. gracious about the fact that I get shy in person, knowing that you all know how often I say the word fuck, that sometimes I feel like a half eaten chicken and that my hair is often unwashed and I live off of Luna bars at times.
I was supposed to be at South Jersey Pagan Pride the day before but it was cold and rainy which means no money + misery + fibro flare up, so instead I met up with Jason Miller, Jason Colwell, RO and Maggi Horseman for some really good conversation, that was no less fun though significantly more boisterous at the party we attended later that night. I made a boozy pumpkin mousse in tiny chocolate cups, for the curious. And didn’t get home until 3a because you put a bunch of occultists in a room and it is Band Camp Geek-Chic all over the place.
So needless to say, I was a bit exhausted by the time the Rasputina show came around. But also, determined. Jow still had not seen them in full concert, just at events. It was standing room only and I could have reached out and touched their feet which would have been weird and off putting so I kept my hands to myself. I’ve always admired Melora Creager because I think she’s a total badass. She has shaped her band very similarly to how Trent Reznor shaped NIN in that she is the only constant which means the sound even for “old” songs is being redefined with each member which is gorgeous. She toured with Nirvana and she started cello rock. She writes crazy songs about marginalized historical female figures and stories, using archetypal characters such as Indian princesses, Hawaiian handmaidens and Medieval queens. She’s famous for her patter in between sets which usually goes something like her preamble on A Radical Recital, Good evening everyone! We are here expressly to scare the bejesus out of you by showing our hoodoo, displaying our voodoo and tragically and embarrassingly, exposing our extreme mojo. She started this because cellos need to be tuned a lot in between songs and has a near Gypsy Rose level knack for it at this point. She dresses in torn stockings, boho dresses, corsets and feathers and looks fantastic. She’s not a dewy eyed young thing, she’s ten years my senior and very clearly taking a Jadis view on taking up space.
And she’s famous for it.
She has a really rabid cultish following; elegant former scene queens, elder goths, musicians and people who look like someone you wouldn’t look at twice at the supermarket, all mouthing the words.
I love listening to their music at home, but it is nothing like seeing them perform. Bow strings are snapping, keyboards are beaten, drums are thrashed, bows are being literally pounded against cello and the unearthly sound of their fairie howls entwining with each other can only be experienced in person. I hadn’t heard the new album yet because we had misplaced it as we’ve been living like garbage animals, because: craft season. It breaks open my heart in ways I can’t describe. Melora, bashing her bow against her cello and defiantly wailing, People have their secrets all the time/ You’ve got yours, I’ve got mine!
And I think to myself, there is no way in the world this should ever work. The weird lyrics, the antique cellos that are electrified, the unearthly warbles, the age group of the band and yet it’s one of the most holy, beautiful experiences I experience in life. And not just for me, but for all these people in the room. If that’s not actually magic, what is? If that kind of dedication and unrelenting commitment can do this, isn’t it worth it? All the work, all the heartache and all the suffering?
In that moment, I remember that if you are passionate enough about your Great Work, maybe, just maybe anything is possible.