Voltaire… Even the name conjures up figures of the past during the period of the “Enlightenment” that were both famous and infamous for their efforts to tear down accepted dogma and replace it with absolute freedom to question everything including calling on God directly to prove his own worth. Well, this Voltaire doesn’t wear a powdered wig or fine linens and comes off more like the Devil’s PR man, or maybe a devilishly charming used car salesman with a “hell” of a sense of humor, but he is incredibly entertaining whatever century you think he comes from. Voltaire is a favorite at many conventions, especially those linked with Steampunk, Goth Culture, or pretty much anything counterculture or kinky, but he also does rather expansive musical tours (with the "skeletal Orchestra"), and really clever music videos. He is a talented musician, but best known for his total sense of irreverent humor and the macabre in his lyrics, concepts, and general presentation in pretty much everything he does.
When I learned he was going to be playing at “The Church” Goth Night at the Lizard Lounge in Dallas, Texas , which Voltaire refers to as “his home away from home”, I cleared my schedule, for that night at least. I wasn’t going to miss this! Voltaire is, in a word, utterly charming. That, combined with his evil grin, while singing songs about coupling with zombie prostitutes and how much he enjoys being “evil” certainly makes one do a double take on many different levels. For a moment you start to believe maybe he is pretending to lie to make the lies seem more believable, but in the end, he just doesn’t feel very evil, so it all makes you laugh, and dance, and sing a long with the music! What a mind F___!
Voltaire came on almost an hour late, just like the last show of his I went to, but I observed the crowd carefully, and instead of acting annoyed about it, their excitement just seemed to build. He played and sang most of his best known favorites as well as some fairly new material I hadn’t heard before, and at one point, pretended (or not-who knows) to forget the lyrics and had the audience to sing part of one song, which most of them knew the words to, while he remembered where he was in that piece. It all seemed like hanging out with your favorite local demon. Really. Utterly charming.
Keep in mind, the only demons I have ever encountered, were not at all charming, and rest assured, we didn’t do much hanging out together. In fact it always got quite ugly. That’s why this whole bizarre act seems so surreal and fascinating!
It was easy to tell who his long time fans were, as opposed to the newcomers to his personal brand of madness, and not just because they could remember the lyrics to some songs better than the performer, but because the items that put a touch of shock or at least surprise on the faces of a few audience members (even in a goth club believe it or not!) simply delighted the others. He also performed some songs from his new album BiTrektual which pokes fun at Star Wars, Star Trek, and other sci-fi topics with extreme irreverence.
At one point, I realized that while very few acts can keep the modern attention deficit, video game addicted Americans, focused without at least three performers or more on stage at all times, you totally forget that it’s just Voltaire and his guitar. He fills the room so completely with his macabre sort of charm, that you just don’t need anyone else. Maybe that’s why there was such a long line to get in for his show, and staff were concerned that their auditorium might not be large enough for his show at the Steampunk World’s Fair.
If you ever get a chance to see and hear this man (or whatever he is) perform, do like I did, clear your schedule, and make it happen! This should go on your list of things to do before you die this time around. You won’t regret it. We all need a bit of the bizarre, the macabre, and the strange in our life. If one removes all the mystery, life becomes sterile, and so… well… normal. Ugh! Voltaire helps to keep the magic of the mysterious, dark, and unfathomable still alive, so treat yourself to a bit of happy madness and go hear him perform.