Thanksgiving Day at Laurelinde's was a fairly low-key affair because we were guests. Once you get the turkey into the oven, it's pretty much smooth sailing until the last ninety minutes of roasting time or so because that's usually when you need to start working on all of the other dishes for dinner if you're going to have them all together. The day before, Lyssa had made meatballs stroganoff, so we had them for lunch with kluski noodles a couple of hours before dinner to get us through. There isn't a whole lot to say about the actual preparation process because I wasn't involved in it - the extent of it this year was my helping to set and clean off the table. Still, it was nice to share a holiday meal with everyone down here; Lyssa and I decided to go home for Yule this year rather than Thanksgiving to give ourselves a break.
Shortly after dinner, Lyssa, Laurelinde, and I broke off from the family to get ready for the rest of the evening, namely the Cruxshadows concert last night at Jaxx in West Springfield. All things considered, the most difficult part was deciding what to wear. Vanity aside, I tend to err on the side of staying warm because I lose body heat rapidly, and the poor circulation in my hands tends to cause them to become useless in short order. Lyssa opted for something light and breathable, surmising that she could leave her coat in the car; also, she planned on buying a hooded sweatshirt at the swag booth which she could wear if it got too cold for her. Laurelinde met us halfway with a padded leather jacket and t-shirt underneath.
Our first stop after arriving at Jaxx and traversing entry security (your basic issue magnetometer arch, a common enough sight in DC) was the swag booth. Because the Cruxshadows haven't yet nbrought their website's store back online (which has become something of an in-joke in the fandom) I stocked up on stuff while I was there: two t-shirts, a fistful of buttons, and a handful of stickers. You see, I tend to stockpile stuff in one of my hordes of $object for later times, such as getting into the mood to stick something new on the wall in my office or switching out the badges on one of my coats. I spoke to the guy running their swag booth, and he mentioned that he hoped they've give him the job of getting their online store back up and running. Rogue or Patrick, if you happen to read this, give the guy manning your booth in DC a shot at your website.
Windbringer is quite pleased with the new Cruxshadows logo decal on his cover, by the bye. The first band to take the stage at Jaxx was a relatively new act called I:Scintilla, a darkwave band based out of Chicago, Illinois. Their sound seems to straddle a couple of genres, ranging from hard pop to darkwave that reminds one a bit of later VNV Nation, only featuring a live drummer rather than a drum machine. They didn't play a very long set, but what they did play I rather liked. I bought their latest album after they left the stage based on their show, which I'll load onto my iPod sometime this weekend and listen to more carefully while on the road. Next on the flyer for the night was Ayria, who'd departed their hometown of Toronto, Canada once again. A few changes have been made to Ayria since the last time we saw them, namely, they've released a new album called Hearts for Bullets, and the few tracks that they played from it show that their sound has matured, and taken a turn for the better. Secondly, Ayria is now a trio: Jennifer's Parkin's old synth player Joseph Byer left to join Combichrist, but was replaced by two other people, a new keyboardist and someone playing octopads whose names I've yet to uncover. They played mostly stuff from their new album, but spiced the mix with a couple of tracks from Flicker and Debris for fun. Ayria's always fun to watch on stage: they definitly put the perky in perkygoth.
The closing act of the night was the Cruxshadows, who have yet to put on anything but an astounding show. Following the departure of a couple of members of the band after last year's Dragoncon, this was our first time seeing the new lineup. Replacing Rachel McDonnell on violin are the duo of David Wood and JoHanna Moresco; dancer and backup singer Sarah Kilgore replacing Sarah Poulos; rounding out the lineup is the amazingly energetic and spry Valerie Gentile on lead guitar. Pyromantic is still on keyboards, and of course Rogue's on point. Before their leg of the show started, the three of us ran into Tiffany, a friend of Orthaevelve and Jen whom we haven't seen in about a year. We caught up for a few minutes and then set about scanning the interior of Jaxx to see where the band was - just because they're setting up doesn't mean that they won't pop up out of nowhere. Presently, Pyro's iBook began to speak through the PA system, and then we felt a familiar presence walking through the crowd, gently guiding people to one side as he passed. If nothing else, Rogue knows how to make an entrance.
Thanks to Angelvmc over at the forums, here's the setlist for the Immortal tour:
- I Believe
- Immortal (the new single)
- Dragonfly (Yay!)
- Memorare (This wound up being a duet with Jessica, Rogue's wife.)
- Deception (A classic.)
- Eye Of the Storm
- Wake the White Queen (Based on the movie Mirrormask
- Birthday (Make a grown Time Lord cry, why dont'cha?)
And for encores:
- Marilyn, My Bitterness (Of course.)
(note: All links are to concert footage or music videos.)
Something that amazed all of us is the sheer energy that Valerie brings to the band. Not only was she bouncing all over the stage without missing a chord, but the way she kept trading off positions with the other band members and the dancers without missing a beat was amazingly well timed. I didn't think that they'd find anyone who could keep up on stage, but she certainly fits the bill, and I hope she stays with the band for a couple of years at least. Unlike other shows, Rogue kept the poetry in between songs to a minimum, which I've gathered he does between major releases. It's also refreshing that they use so little smoke in their stage show, though it's just enough to frustrate the autofocus mechanism in my camera. Rogue sang a few songs while standing on the railing built into the stage and also from a barstool in the middle of the dancefloor, which really brings the crowd into the experience; we were wondering, however, about the guy with the black leather suspenders grabbing him during Deception for the dance (a tradition for that song). Thankfully, it was handled seamlessly, and nothing untoward happened.
During the chat with the crowd, a question I'd been concerned about all evening (funnily enough) was answered: The bands had, in fact, had Thanksgiving dinner earlier in the day. Call me crazy but I was kind of worried about that. I've spent a few holidays on the road and it's not an easy thing. I have a couple of friends who are on the road much more than I am, and I sometimes wonder how they do it - how they handle being away from their families so often for so long.
CXS did two last songs as their encore, after Rogue goofed around a bit with the audience about his hearing, or potential lack therof. This actually answered another question of mine, which is whether or not the band wears hearing protection on stage. As someone who is highly concerned about his hearing, I wonder about silly stuff like this. Anyway, they played Monsters and then Marilyn, My Bitterness as their encore tracks. Because the three of us had jockeyed our way into position in the first three rows, we were among those let up on stage to dance along with a goodly fraction of the crowd.
When it was all said and done, we got to speak for a while with Rogue; unbeknownst to us, the rest of the band had decamped for the foyer of Jaxx. If Laurelinde hadn't been quite so tired, I would have tried to get their autographs as well. We gave and received congratulations for our respective weddings, and somehow went off on a tangent about Dragoncon. To our continued amusement, he geeked out for a while about Transformers, of all things, and the guy in the huge Optimus Prime costume clanking around this year. He was kind enough to autograph my copy of Immortal and before the three of us left, we had a chance to hug Rogue.
I swear, that man's made of bone, whipcord, and sweat under his clothes. He needs a sandwich.
After that, we headed back to the car, and then back to Laurelinde's place to crash for the night. We didn't get up until noon or therabouts today, and got a slow start, at that. After dropping our stuff off at home, Lyssa and I headed out to do some grocery shopping to restock for the week and then met up with Hasufin for a late lunch. After making a few stops at Microcenter, Michael's, and Home Depot, we returned home for the evening, whereupon Lyssa started working on a project for Yule and I started writing this entry and backing up the raw image files Bladeless shot at the wedding to DVD-ROM because I'm running short of space on Windbringer's external drive.