Live Review: Sinner’s Salvation!, Philadelphia, PA, June 30, 2009

burlesquegroup420“I love when people tell me I look like a monster!” squealed Athena Onatopp before taking the stage, squeezed into a creamy latex dress dotted with black tassels. Onatopp, the MC for the Sinner’s Salvation burlesque/rock/sideshow event at Fishtown venue Kung Fu Necktie, kept the crowd screaming for more as Olde City Sideshow shocked and made even the strongest stomachs shiver with its display of pain-inducing instruments. Danny Borneo (a.k.a. the Human Blockhead) pounded a rusty nail—the tamest of the various instruments of torture used—into his nasal cavities while Reggie Bugmuncher swallowed swimming goldfish with a smile. The Hellcat Girls stepped in to bring the color back to the audience members’ pallid faces with a blend of Vaudeville comedy, burlesque glamour and ‘60s grindhouse. From new-mom bombshell Candy to fresh-meat burlesquer Rose, the gals entertained the crowd before Olde City Sideshow re-emerged for another performance involving eyelids and an iron (“instrument of domestic torture!” screeched Athena) and a handmade contraption dubbed “the barbed-wire bunk beds.”  “We do believe in unicorns and rainbows, but nothing you see here tonight is magic or gimmick,” Athena assured us. Next to take the stage were rockabilly freaks Sasquatch And The Sickabillys, with frontman David “Sasquatch” Caetano channeling a mean Johnny Cash melded with hardcore metal. The high-energy, grizzled trio toe-taps to Cash’s “Jackson” one minute and then blows the drink out of your hand with a Metallica cover that leads into a 30-second bit of semi-silence during which Sasquatch repeatedly smacks himself in the face and mutters obscenities before busting out of the post-lobotomy stupor with hardcore thrashing. Caetano elegantly described it as “Filthadelphia rock.” Just your average Tuesday night in Fishtown.

—Cristina Perachio