The pink-haired, wayward Victorian girl, who just cannot decide if she´s a fairy or a rat, has finally found her way to Finland. How – we´ll never know! No matter how creatively local promoters tried to position her as J-rock, gothic metal, industrial rock or sympho-pop, this performer doesn´t fall into any category yet named, this is self-righteously one of a kind – simply Emilie Autumn. Who dares to categorize her?! Especially when she already put herself into an asylum – what other verdict can anyone dare to diagnose?!
Needful to mention that she was first discovered by Courtney Love, for whom she´d recorded some vocals and instrumental parts on previous albums. Later Emilie collaborated with Smashing Pumpkins, recorded a song for the European version of the soundtrack to the third “Saw” movie, wrote a book (soon to be published) and conquered endless amounts of hearts throughout the world – and so far there´s not even one official video of hers made! Those lucky Finns who had a chance to visit famous German gothic festival WGT (Wave Gotik Treffen) saw her live-performance and then slowly the plague began to spread…
Emilie entitled her art as “victorindustrial”, whoever listened to her immediately turned into a “plague-rat”, whereas her own stage companions became “bloody crumpets” – tea and cookies are basically a religion to all this madness. With passion for stage decoration, sweets bakery, kitschy hand-crafted costumes and rebellious behavior, Ms Autumn is living a success and recognition of what would´ve been locked up in a mental institution just a hundred years ago! So the name for all this madness wasn´t hard to invent – simply the Asylum, the Asylum for wayward Victorian girls. And who´s ever done anything like that before?! Emilie Autumn and music industry are two separate and unrelated entities.
This visit of Emilie to Helsinki was her first, but surely not last as the show was an absolute success. But can anyone describe what they saw or heard? No, because there are no words or adjectives to that. And so let it be little girls´ strict mothers, young boys or tough security men on Tavastia´s doors, no one was indifferent at the end.
The Asylum on tour is Emilie herself, the queen of plague-rats and her five faithful “escaped inmates”, companions in tragedy. One schizophrenic young lady, mentally stuck somewhere in early childhood, called Little Miss Sugarless, The Blessed Contessa with a tendency to cannibalism, one pirates´ captain Miss Maggots, a tortured ballerina Aprella and a burlesque performer, Naughty Veronica. All lead by their only mascot, tortured plush pink Suffer the Bear. Their joint performance is an insight into a regular few hours at the regular life at the asylum of late 1800s. The ladies locked away from the masses, keep themselves entertained the best ways each knows how, often by kissing each other and then all end up in a messy “lady-pile”... The queen of rats plays and sings, ballerina dances to it all, the Contessa plays with fire and knives, the burlesque Veronica dances with feather fans and takes her clothes off any chance she has, the pirates´ captain does circus tricks whilst the lady-child needs to be always watched and taken care of. And all not without the irreplaceable ritual of tea-drinking, as it´s always tea-time at the asylum, it´s always 4 o´clock… Only what´s cooking in the teapot, tea is it or something stronger?... And why do their teacups so much remind me of shots´ glasses?
With her lyrics, outfits and stage design, Emilie mocks what was so common and unquestionable in strict Victorian times, such graceful and elegant period, yet so degrading to women of that time. Her whole scene is so scrumptious that it´s hard to resist to take a bite – and many have! Suffer the Bear has been stolen twice already, now it´s his 3rd brother that´s touring with the Asylum as we saw it. Emilie promised bloody revenge if only she finds out who stole the bears and a bunch of other stuff that belongs to the asylum. To support the speech, songs “I know where you sleep”, “Dead is the new alive” and “Liar” followed.
If it is the first time to witness the asylum live, an hour´s set is not enough to figure all this out. The stage is overflowing in action, changing sets, different outfits, colorful costumes and details of decorations. Each girl is living her character to the extreme, each one is in constant movement during the entire show without a moment of rest. Simultaneously Emilie is playing and singing, so all your six senses are at their most intense the whole time, not knowing where to look next or notice how songs interchange and suddenly it´s all over… Where have you been the past hour and a half?!
After the show there was an autograph session, where along with precious signatures all asylum´s members generously gave away kisses to ALL lips, hugs and revealing posing for photographs with a fountain of compliments to everyone in sight, reassuring with promises: “we will be back soon…”
…and suddenly everyone wants to be an acknowledged madman-lunatic just to be accepted into the asylum… Emilie´s motto “get the plague and spread it” is certainly working, and if it went as far as Finland and with this much success, we can just congratulate Miss Autumn and proclaim: mission accomplished. After all, mental – aren´t we all?!...
Intro: Best Safety Lies in Fear
The art of suicide
I know where you sleep
Dead is the new alive
Misery loves company
Thank God I´m pretty
God help me
Dead is the new alive
Girls Just Wanna Have Fun
Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life
Marina Sidyakina, transl. Kathleen Gransalke
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