Rasputina at the El Rey — Even Harry Potter was there

Is it appropriate to say a group “rocked the house” when that band consists of two cello players and a drummer? Well, I’m going to go out on a limb here and say Rasputina indeed rocked the El Rey last night. From the first notes of “Hunter’s Kiss,” the opening piece, to the end of the encore, Rasputina was spot-on. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that, given the great sound at the El Rey and the synergy between the trio and the audience, last night’s recital sounded even better than Rasputina’s recordings.

The set list contained many favorites from earlier albums, including Rasputina’s amazing covers of “Barracuda” and “Wish You Were Here.” (Thankfully, Melora and company ignored shouted requests from the overly enthusiastic crowd for “Free Bird.”) But of course, there was plenty of material from Oh Perilous World as well. More about that after the jump.

This latest album, Rasputina fans will already know, was inspired largely by current events and so it was not entirely surprising that in between songs such as “In Old Yellowcake” or “Choose me for a Champion,” the lyrics of which come from a speech by Osama Bin-Laden, Creager’s patter at times turned toward the political. It wasn’t entirely clear–at least to me–just how seriously she wanted the audience to take, for instance, the claim that George Bush engineered the events of September 11, but my companion and I agreed that we hope this is just a phase Rasputina is going through. Don’t get me wrong, much of the music I like is overtly political (I’ve seen Billy Bragg in concert twice, fer chrissakes), but in the case of Rasputina, the content doesn’t seem to be a great mix with the form, and the intent is pretty opaque much of the time. Nonetheless, I would go see them again in a minute. Creager’s solo performance of what I think was “Rusty the Skatemaker,” but owed much to the Velvet’s “Black Angel’s Death Song,” during the encore more than made up for any excesses earlier in the evening. Hell, it even pretty much made up for the opening band, My Brightest Diamond, to whom I can only say, “Don’t quit your day jobs.”

The bummer of the evening is that my camera battery chose the moment we were walking in the El Rey to die, so I can share neither the loveliness of the trio nor the silliness of the crowd (Tutus! More than one. Backpacks shaped liked stuffed animals. Seriously bad facial hair….). Only know that goth is not what it used to be. Most surprising accessory: two different fans were toting their copies of the latest Harry Potter book. I didn’t see either of them reading between acts. One wonders.