Event review: Emilie Autumn at the Nile Theater 1/29/13

At the end of the auditorium-style hall of the Nile Theater, the stage was unequipped with drumsets and speakers. In their places were huge steel gates and bulking machinery forming a watchtower as if to look down from. It wasn’t shaping up to be an average rock show. Hot, nuts, and suicidal, this was Emilie Autumn’s latest Victorian jamboree at Arizona’s underground music epicenter.

The Punktorian violin shredder burst onto the stage in dramatic decorum to release on onslaught of her latest album, Fight Like a Girl, while thrashing about her duo Veronica Varlow and Captain Maggot. The set of gates and machinery onstage provided a dramatic platform on which to enact the characters concocted in the story running through the album, which translated live into intense interaction and the lightning-fast speed of changing from extravagant corsets to tattered rags. With bombastic gestures and seething facial expressions, Autumn’s live interpretation of her new mishmash of neoclassical and industrial has all the grandeur of a broadway musical.

The mood of the performance contrasted with past tours. A bleak overcast was uncannily prevalent throughout each song, while previous shows were lightened up by skits and comedy (though a bizarre narration of an erotic fanfiction threw everyone a curveball). The trio of girls emphasized distress and peril to coincide with the content of each song. The comedic moments were kept to a bare minimum and contained. Autumn’s vision this time around is more sternly tuned to a more serious performance, perhaps a sign of things to come.

The lack of any electric violin shredding did not go unnoticed. Being her signature, the night almost felt incomplete without Autumn conducting a solo of face-melting proportions that left previous crowds of Glam-Goth-Victorian apparel in heaps of ashes on the floor. The audio and the setting were the bulk, but that last bit of virtuosity would have been the perfect icing on the cake.

But even with that one little blemish, Emilie Autumn’s unique stage presence still rings as shocking and compelling as ever, with a bit more oomph on the drama. – Zander Buel