Friday, February 11, 2011

"are you suffering?" well yes, i was

Image source: Jordan B. All photos used with permission. 
Yesterday was not leisurely in the least.  My hours between waking at 9:00 a.m. and arriving at Mr. Small's at 5:30 p.m. for the VIP event consisted of the following:
  • Getting dressed for the concert.  This included much more time spent on makeup than usual.  I discovered that I can make curls stay in my hair for nearly 16 hours if I wet my hair, mousse it, then blow-dry it and put the smallest hot curlers I have around my forehead and the top of my head, and larger rollers for the lower part of my hair.
  • Scramble to find a car so I could make the hour-long drive to my hometown and pick up my 17-year-old sister Jordan. Originally my boyfriend Scott had promised me his car, but he got stuck in Erie the night before due to his job, didn't sleep at all, and then had to do some things for work before leaving.  I ended up borrowing my boss's car. Did I ever mention that my boss is so good to the people he knows? He'd give you his arm if he thought it could help you.
  • Rush Jordan back to our parents' house so she could drop off schoolbooks and put on her outfit (she had done her hair and makeup before going to school) and drive back to Pittsburgh to wake up Scott so he could drive us to Mr. Small's in time to make it to the VIP session. Although only Jordan and I were going to the VIP session, Scott had bought the tickets for me and so needed to be there, photo ID in hand, to prove that the VIP tickets were to go to us.
Unfortunately, due to Scott's sleep deprivation, he took a nap from 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., and missed a very important email that was sent to his inbox around 3:00p.m.  This email stated that the VIP session had been postponed until after the concert. Why? The frozen Muffins standing outside the theater told us that EA's tour bus had not even arrived yet, hence the postponement.  Jordan and I debated whether to stay and ensure that we'd get really good spots in the crowd, but eventually decided to go with Scott to a local Panera Bread instead so he could eat and we could have some hot drinks.  We weren't eager to spend any more time than we had to in the Pittsburgh winter air in our fishnets and ripped-up stockings.

After passing a good hour and a half of time eating and milling around a bookstore, we returned to the concert venue, only to find ourselves in a long line with plenty of Muffins decked out in Asylum or goth wear.  There was a plethora of creative outfits this time around compared to the last concert- men in Victorian-esque suits with such steampunk touches as clockwork parts added to them, one woman in a beautifully hand-made plaid Victorian bustle dress, and lots and lots of girls in striped stockings with hearts drawn under their left eyes. I also noticed that there were a lot more men and a old of older people who didn't appear to be there only to accompany their teenage daughters, as happened during the last concert.  In fact, the group standing behind Scott, Jordan and I all looked to be between the ages of 30 and 50.  Everyone seemed to be in proper spirit for the event, and we chatted away to each other and huddled close together for warmth in the single-digit degree weather.

That was, until 7:40, when I realized that the line had not progressed forward for about 15-20 minutes. After a phone conversation with two friends of mine who were ahead of us in line, I learned that no one was being let in because the band needed to do a sound check.  I heard more rumors snake their way down the line- including that EA's tour bus had only arrived at 7:00, the time when the doors were supposed to open.

Despite my little sister and others leading on a few heartening rounds of "Miss Lucy Had Some Leeches," people were starting to get pissed.  One guy began pounding on the door and screaming for someone to open up.  My friends up front were already set on never coming to another EA concert again.  I was pretty upset that the theater and the band would be so inconsiderate as to let so many people, plenty dressed to the nines in stockings, fishnets, shifts, and corsets, stand outside in temperatures that had been forecast to be near zero degrees. Weren't they concerned about fans getting frostbite? people began to wonder.  It was a miserable half-hour we spent there, waiting for something to change the state that we were in. We danced in place, huddled together some more, started to sing "Shalott," then realized that a song about a woman freezing to death was not the best way to pass the time when you were going through a similar experience.

Finally, at 8:10, the line moved again.  Soon Jordan and I had VIP passes in hand and we were in the venue, slowly gaining feeling back in our extremities.  We were nowhere close to the stage like we had been the last time, but Jordan was in good spirits and taking everything in stride.  I was not so much, mainly because I felt responsible for Jordan, Scott, Scott's coworker Eric, and my two friends having to stand out in the cold so long.  But it was worth it when the music started playing.

Essentially, the show was very much the same as the last time I went (see the review of that concert here)- the same sort of opening, songs were sung in almost the same exact order, and much of the choreography and on-stage antics were the same during the songs.  "Liar" had Emilie Autumn singing while being pushed around stage in a wheelchair, "Dead is the New Alive" started out as an army call, and "God Help Me" involved the Bloody Crumpets throwing cookies and spitting tea at the audience, Contessa losing her long underwear, and Veronica spanking her. The Sexy Rat Game continued to be a crowd favorite as well.

However, there were a few notable changes, mainly on things that I was not overly impressed with during the show at Mr. Small's Theater in December 2009.  The first were the skits.  Every single skit that they did was funny and enjoyable to watch without taking anything away from the music and the songs.  There were also less of them, which I think made the concert flow much better.  So two thumbs up for cutting down on that factor, EA. 

Also, the showy PDA between the band members that I complained about in my review of the last concert was, this time around, almost nil.  It was more suggestive than direct, which I thought made it much more enticing, such as EA and Veronica's dialogue about Veronica wanting to touch EA's... harpsichord.  And there were exactly two kisses, according to Scott.  He wishes there had been more.  Truthfully, I was sort of wishing the same, mainly because I have been conditioned to expect it.  But I was perfectly happy with less than more, mainly because a good deal of the last concert was taken up by the "shock" factor of two females kissing, which actually just made it seem like they were trying too hard.

This show's choreography was much more pronounced, especially with the Bloody Crumpets.  During last year's show, it seemed quite often that the Bloody Crumpets did not entirely know what to do with themselves on stage.  Sure, there was choreography during their performance of "God Help Me," "The Art of Suicide" and "Liar," but I do recall many instances where they were actually wandering around aimlessly on stage, drinking tea or passing tea cups and biscuits to each other.  Unless I am mistaken, this year it seemed like there was a purpose to most of their actions on stage.  There were plenty of synchronized movements during the songs that I don't recall the Crumpets doing much of last year.  And Veronica's fan dance during "Dominant" just seemed much cleaner and put together.  Of course, time plays tricks on your memory, so I could be completely off on this statement I am making about the choreography, so don't take me at my word on that one.

The one real disappointment, other than it was harder to see Emilie Autumn due to where we were standing this time (near the back in the center), was that the concert was definitely shorter by an hour.  I can think of at least two songs that weren't sung this time around: "Shalott" and "306," both songs that I was particularly looking forward to singing along to.  I was very disappointed at first, but after some thinking I came up with a few good reason for why the show was so much shorter this year.  The fact that many skits that had been performed last year in between the songs were actually cut out this year probably considerably shortened the time of the show.  Also, there was less "talking" to the audience, which had occurred last year in great abundance and took up a good deal of time.  This year, direct comments made to the band members were mostly ignored, or at least not directly responded to.  I don't think that's a bad thing at all. It's not like EA and the Bloody Crumpets were pushing aside the fans- they were just going on with the show.

Overall, I think this year's concert (aside from turning into a human Popsicle for an hour) was as enjoyable and considerably more cohesive than last year's.

After the show was over Jordan and I still had the VIP experience to look forward to.  Scott was our ride back home, but because he wasn't a VIP he spent the entire time in a cold hallway in Mr. Small's Theater, passing the time by reading a book about the British Empire in India that he had brought with him.  And all of this on three hours of sleep!

The VIP experience was excellent for the reason any fan would think so- we got to personally talk to EA, get items signed, and be amazed by her adeptness at playing classical music on her Baroque violin.  The event itself, however, was poorly organized.  We spent a great deal of time waiting around, but that was fine with me as Jordan and I spent the time talking with other Plague Rats, including Kamy (who I met at last year's concert).  We were told we'd be going to another part of the building, and I guess something happened to kibosh that plan because Emilie had to come down to us instead. The Asylum Tea we were promised never actually came due to some problem with the brewing of said tea.  The manager running the VIP event did promise to send us all a sample of the tea through the mail, so now I have that to look forward to.

Please understand that I am not complaining at all about how the VIP event was run.  I was just happy to be there and trusted that all of the promises would be fulfilled, even if in not quite the way I had expected them to be. But I have run events before myself (including two tea parties), and it did not seem to me like things were going smoothly with this event.

Emilie Autumn was one of the sweetest people I think I have ever met.  She was so apologetic for all of the difficulties that ended up being the Pittsburgh concert.  The official explanation is that the tour bus hadn't started in Cleveland, probably due to the extreme cold, and it took several hours to get it going.  She talked to us all as if she had known us for years, and during the Meet & Greet session she squealed and eagerly held her arms out to the next fan waiting in line for a photo and an autograph, talking with them one-on-one about themselves.  Jordan, who loves to draw, had created a picture for EA of her as a dragon, red pigtails and striped black and white violin in hand.  Emilie gushed over this picture, which I suppose you would expect an artist to do with a fan's artwork, but to the point where she was even showing it to the manager who was running the event (who, understandably, seemed more pressed to keep the line of fans going through than pausing to look at a piece of artwork.  That is her job, after all).  She also called Jordan beautiful, which Jordan is:

My turn was certainly memorable.  She squealed when she saw me and hugged me like I was an old friend.  She complimented me on my corset and Jordan and I on our good genetics.  I gave her my copy of The Asylum for Wayward Victorian Girls to sign and a book I had made for her entitled The Opheliac Soul.  When she opened the book up she saw that it was "Hollow Like [The Opheliac's] Soul."  I wrote the web address of this blog in the book as well and briefly explained the neo-Victorian focus of this blog in case she wanted to check it out.  She seemed interested, and was so friendly.  So even if none of that stuff meant anything to her, kudos to her for acting so sincere because it did make me feel pretty damn special!

Then I got to the crux of what I wanted to say.  "I just want you to know," I said, "that my boyfriend bought me these VIP tickets to prevent me from killing myself back in July.  I'm okay now, but-"

She gave me a warm embrace and, in a shaky voice, began to tell me people like us are meant to find each other, to help each other out, that this is why she does what she does.  Since my mind was racing with the main thought of "Shit, I'm going to be the jerk responsible for making Emilie Autumn cry," all I could do was thank her for her music and say that it helps me when I'm down.

She almost made me cry too with this sisterly embrace:

I went away feeling rather unfamiliar with myself, but in a good way.  It wasn't the murky grayness that covers most of my daily existence.  It was knowing that there is empathy.  Not exactly a great revelation, but a real comfort that added determination in my steps away from her.  I did leave her saying, "I'm good now."

Do I hope that I am "good" now?  I do.  Not tremendously.  "Best Safety Lies in Fear," after all, and I when I do gain a little hope for good things I am extremely wary of it.  Emilie Autumn did not necessarily give me that hope, but she reinforced that idea that non-depressed people have failed to get across to my damaged brain- mainly that I am not alone, and never will be, even if it seems like no one else could possibly understand.


  1. You are awesome, Emilie is awesome, and I am sick with jealousy XP

  2. Great post, I seriously have a stray tear running down my cheek as I type.

    Glad you had a good time :)

  3. I found this while google searching photos of my rat game from 2012. This is so heart warming to read. It touches the soul. :') I too was at this venue VIP, she really was as kind, genuine, and intimate with us as you've described. Thank you for sharing this touching memory with us and re-opening up my own memories of this fond event we got to share. I hope someday you find this and it makes you smile. <3 xSnipSnipx

  4. @ xSnipSnipx- I have found this comment. Thank you for your lovely words. It is a fond memory of mine, one that I do go back to whenever I am feeling more depressed than usual. I'm glad it can help others recall their excellent memories of this event. :)