Gothic troubadour at Backstage Lounge

Voltaire and Ego Likeness bring unique act to Backstage Lounge tonight.

Special to The Sun
Published: Thursday, May 1, 2008 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, April 29, 2008 at 6:42 p.m.

Oh crap. The students are leaving again.

Seriously, people. This makes a lot of folks' jobs a lot harder. The much-appreciated men and women of Five Star will have far fewer and far smaller deliveries at four in the morning. All those sage barkeeps who deliver the most complex assembly available to patrons who are in greater need of sleep than another will be low on tips.

It's not to say that things are hard on everyone these days. Just the other day, I walked into a restroom and saw the words "Our Economy" crudely scrawled in black magic marker on the upright portion of a porcelain sentry. I used the other one. No sense attacking the weak.

Shortage of humans, however, does not equal shortage of shows. It's how those individuals (don't) get paid. So let's all go through the litany.

If your grandmother came into town to see her precious offspring's offspring graduate from college, take her to Backstage Lounge tonight to see Voltaire and Ego Likeness. This suggestion is restricted to elders who wear a lot of eyeliner and patent leather.

I'm about as Gothic as a button-down Oxford, so what interest Voltaire holds is encased in his act. Voltaire - which is the frontman's pseudonym, though he's not always alone on stage - bills himself as a troubadour, and rightly so. The gigs are just as much about telling stories and playing games with the audience as they are about singing strangely drawn opuses of murder, death and things geeky.

The work is that of entertainment, and successful in its endeavor - not just for those who enjoy the dark facade, but also for he who enjoys the simple idea of being directly entertained.

Eye-catching of a different sort is the first annual iFolk Fest, going down at Wayward Council on Monday. For starters, the charge is 50 cents per band on a 10-band spread. Good for those who've gone beyond shoestring to the aglet budget. There's Chris Clavin, Eric Ayotte, RedBear, Nice & Friendly and Alex and The Imaginary Friends, to name a few.

What we're looking at here is an almost entirely one-man, unsigned, acoustic gathering from multiple ends of the nation. Mostly the loner type. Mostly the type with no plans or expectation of anything resembling a music "career." This is what I like most about them.

All of these bands/guys are folk music of a default sense, meaning that it's music for and of the people, made to share thoughts and ideas set to a tune. And that relaxing vibe translates directly into the music they put out.

I should note also that this night is also part of Wayward's constant drive for your old books, albums, comics and what-have-you. The best books and music are usually those given to you, so why not be on the other side of the flow.

Speaking of independent-type things, two nights later at Wayward holds a pre-festival kickoff for Pop Mayhem Fest. That word "pop" didn't sit well with me either, but this isn't the kind that Clear Channel force-feeds. What the whole idea is, I'll tell you more about next week, but for this night Emporer X, Facehat and Rumpshaker will provide the starting fuel for a 3-day box social of sorts.

Least notwithstanding in placement, Wednesday also sees the return of Kid Koala to Common Grounds. The Kid in question is smarter that your average DJ, largely because some of the things he does fall outside the realm of what a DJ does.

Take the fact that he can turn a vinyl copy of a single note from a "regular" instrument, and make more than a drone by altering the speed of play, thus changing the pitch and the note itself. Here I thought messing with speed on records only served to understand Alvin and the Chipmunks were real people - or to get secret messages from Iron Maiden.

His other standing-out quality is using sounds and samples usually reserved to more experimental types within a more recognizable dj structure. Crickets, electronic feedback and things alike are commonly found in noise or soundscapes, but not so often in something you can dance to.

Reach Kyle at

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