You can get packed into a club playing bad techno any weekend, but it’s not often that you get to party like it’s 1859. Saturday’s White Mischief, themed “From The Earth To The Moon”, was an evening envisioning the future as the Victorians imagined it (well before George Orwell came along and scared the crap out of us). The crowd was split between those in standard club dress and those who went all out with ball gowns, smoking jackets, hats, fans, and the occasional person dressed as a character from the Jules Verne novel.
Scala was chopped up into the Earth Room, Moon Room (several flights of steps up from the Earth Room), the less evocatively named Lobby Room, and Glass Bar with performers designated to the different atmospheres. In addition to live music, DJ sets, and cabaret, the halls of Scala were filled with performance artists including Skinphony, a Victorian-style burlesque show that involves the body of a harp, cords, and rings pierced through the backs of women. The cords attach the women to the harp frames, and you have a human/wooden hybrid instrument. The highly stylised performance is quite striking, strangely beautiful, but still relatively cringe-worthy. There was also Ginger Roger, the Edwardian Space Pirate, taking revellers on trips through time, though sadly Londonist were unable to partake in such adventures.
London band Kunta Kinte, who acted as co-curators for the evening, also played an energetic set of dance-friendly pop songs. They’ve got the beats and style of Adam and the Ants (physically and musically – their frontman wears a feather in his hair and a pink smear under his eye) but with sugary songs like “I Heart You” and a cover of “Cruel Summer,” they are all saccharine fun.
British Sea Power headlined, and for possibly their first time their maritime attire looked tame within its setting. It didn’t stop them from playing a raucous set of songs from their first two records and their forthcoming album (due in January), with members of the band climbing amps, scaling into the balconies, tussling with people in panda suits, and frontman Yan ending the show by punting a decoy owl into the crowd. To say the least, they kept pace with the somewhat surreal quality of the rest of the evening.
By Amanda Farah. Image showing Skinphony copyright Amanda Farah.