"When I say 'Earl Grey,' you say, 'Yes, please!'" may not be the most famous call-and-response in hip-hop. When uttered by Professor Elemental in his single "Cup of Brown Joy," though, it certainly sets the mood for ... um ... tea? Elemental is dedicated to the steampunk genre, a music that's less concerned with rules than attitude. The steampunk subculture is built around the fancy that modern and future technologies could be steam-powered and exist during the Victorian era. Think H.G. Wells and Jules Verne. Analog computers, ray guns and mechanized arachnids litter the landscape.
Klaude and Emmett Davenport look down at it all from the vantage of their dirigible. Depending on your perspective, they are either two orphaned sisters broadcasting their adventures from a pirate ship, or two friends hosting a weekly radio show on Carrboro's community radio station. Either way, their show, The Clockwork Cabaret, has thousands of online listeners and has helped define the steampunk sound. The genre draws off feel more than style—Tom Waits, The Two Man Gentleman Band, Arcade Fire and Frank Sinatra have all been co-opted as steampunk. Tonight, along with DJ Scaramouche, the Davenports present "Captain Pyewacket's Unauthorized Excursion (A time traveler's dance party)"—a title as rococo as the amount of gears all things steampunk must have. Make sure to don your goggles, top hats, bustles and corsets for the event. Pay $5 at 9 p.m. —Andrew Ritchey