New York City’s renowned cello-driven three-piece, Rasputina, graced Johnny Brenda’s in Philly’s Northern Liberties neighborhood on Devil’s Night with an immaculate performance accompanied by Eszter Balint and local act Tiva Tiva, who rounded out the bill.
Rasputina is led by singer/songwriter Melora Creager, a classically-trained cellist who joined Nirvana on the group’s final tour after they released In Utero. The first distant rumblings of Rasputina came in 1989, as Creager placed an ad to form an all-cello band and was contacted by Canadian-born cellist Julia Kent, who was living in NYC at the time. The two musicians would dub themselves “Traveling Ladies’ Cello Society” before expanding with new musicians and renaming to Rasputina.
Since the early 90’s, Rasputina has released two full-lengths on Columbia Records, with latter releases on Moby‘s Instinct Records and Filthy Bonnet Co, including live LPs and scores of compilations. Their guest rosters and touring-mates reads like the Who’s Who of American alternative. Chris Vrenna (Nine Inch Nails) stepped in as drummer and producer for Rasputina‘s second full-length album, How We Quit the Forest and eventual tours with Bob Mould, Porno for Pyros, Marilyn Manson and Les Claypool, to name a few. Rasputina is currently touring in support of their latest release, Sister Kinderhook, which came out in 2010, shortly after a documentary of the band by Dawn Miceli entitled, Under the Corset.
Tour-mate and singer/songwriter/violinist/actress, Eszter Balint awed fans with her engaging string-themed performance. Born in Hungary,Budpest, she honed her skills as a child member of the avant-garde Squat Theatre troupe before making her cinematic debut in 1984 in director Jim Jarmusch‘s independent film, Stranger Than Paradise. Eszter made her recording debut at age 15 playing violin on a track produced by influential NYC artist Jean Michel Basquiat and featuring rapper Rammelzee. She has received critical priase by likes of The New York Times, The New Yorker, and Billboard Magazine, to name just a few. Eszter Balint is currently working on her own solo material and for this tour she is accompanied by renowned guitarist/composer/songwriter/improviser, Chris Cochrane.
Local act, Tiva Tiva, fronted by cello-wielding front man Daniel de Jesús, gave a solid opening performance in support of the band’s forthcoming release, Music For Interior Castles, due out on November 15. This genre-defying ensemble is sure to make some waves in the coming months, as we look forward to keeping up with them.
Dante Torrieri of Useless Rebel Imaging was on hand to capture the show, so without further ado..
All pictures by Dante Torrieri.
Words by Joshua T. Cohen