Some 15 years ago, singer-guitarist Dennis Van Crash, who was in the local industrial Goth band Queue Up, accepted a job as music director for Cleveland Public Theatre’s production of Hedwig and the Angry Inch
even though he didn’t know much about the play. A hit off-Broadway, the play centers on a glam rock band fronted by an East German singer who underwent a botched sex change operation.
The musical’s songs, however, really spoke to Van Crash, and he formed Vanity Crash to perform the songs in productions of the play that took place in both 2001 and 2002.
The group’s been going strong ever since. It’ll hold a release party for its fifth album, Phantasmagoria
, at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 23, at the Bop Stop.
The party will include a performance of the EP's five songs along with favorites from previous releases. As usual, video will complement Vanity Crash’s show, with a special Skype interview with Mike Garson, David Bowie’s longtime pianist, who’ll talk about his collaboration with the band on the new song “Angel and Me.”
The concert will also feature an art exhibit that will showcase the album’s original cover art plus related works by the artists who contributed to the album’s cover.
Van Crash worked with notable local artists such as Gary Dumm, best known for his decades-long relationship with Harvey Pekar, Jim "The Rev" Giar, Ashley Ribblett, Clare Kolat and Tim Switalski.
“The word 'phantasmagoria' conjures up thoughts of a dream-like state, altered realities and strong visual imagery,” says Van Crash in a press release announcing the show. “In a backwards sense, this theme is throughout the record. The title song is a trippy visual adventure, ‘So It Seems’ is a questioning look at our modern life, ‘Life On A Cool Curve’ reminds us that it’s empowering to be different and ‘Emily Dickenson’ is about a one-night stand with a reclusive poet. ’Angel and Me’ tells the story of two somewhat lost young souls, struggling to understand how they fit in today’s world. But I always thought the song needed something to take it to another level. So I contacted Mike Garson and told him about the song, and he quickly agreed to work on it. I gave him some modest instruction, but also a lot of freedom. He came back with this brilliant interpretation.”
A vinyl version of Phantasmagoria
is slated for release in early 2018.Cleveland's Gotta Groove Records will press the vinyl, and Well Made Music's Clint Holley will master the recording.
for the Bop Stop event are $10.