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Cottage Grove’s Steampunk Cabaret

A week ago I met a girl on the side of the road. She was a radical-anarchist type with black skinny jeans, a half-shaved head and a few well-manicured hairs growing off her chin. We struck up a conversation, which eventually turned to music, she being a saw player.

“I fucking hate folk-punk,” she said. “It’s all the same. Just go up to FolkLife in Seattle and they’ll all be lined up and down the street with their guitars, banjos, washboards and fiddles all playing the same Tom Waits rip-off about train-hopping, dumpster-diving, drinking shitty whiskey and loitering.” 

I’m pretty sure some of that criticism was self-deprecation, but what she spoke of had much truth to it. The washed-up traveler (skinny mongrel in tow) has become as loathed an archetype as your modern day Ray-Ban-clad hipster or Deadhead pot-smoking hippy. And for good reason — they’re all dead ends for civilization. But Aeon Now! is the light at the end of the folk-punk tunnel.

An amalgam of visual artists, thespians and long-time musicians, Cottage Grove’s Aeon Now! is a psychedelic schlitz waltz through Alice’s Wonderland. It’s a tea party fueled by whiskey and steam. Dirges like “My Clock Explodes (When I’m Alone)” find lead vocalist and squeezebox extraordinaire Olive Delsol hurling all her raspy, gutter-soaked energy and raunchy theatrics at the crowd.  And like a band of Victorian ragdolls, this cabaret takes you on a trip that spans from gripping punk to theater of the insane. 

Think of a downsized gulag-esqe Vagabond Opera and that puts you pretty close to what Aeon Now! sounds like. Spin that with a few concepts like community, radical social change and Mutual Aid, and you’re about dead on. Put on your boots — maybe even a petticoat or a pocket watch — throw down a shot or two of distilled grain ferment and you’re ready to hit the floorboards. 

Aeon Now! plays with Mood Area 52 and Strangled Darlings 9 pm Thursday, May 10, at Sam Bond’s; $1-$5.