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Krampus Rumpus spices up the season

A European folkloric tradition gets its devilish due at the Complex.

December 24, 2013|By Pandora Young
  • Krammpstein performs in the Rammstein tribute Krampus Rumpus at the Complex in Glendale on Saturday, Dec. 21, 2013.
Krammpstein performs in the Rammstein tribute Krampus… (Raul Roa / Staff…)

It can get a lot worse than a lump of coal in your stocking.

According to Germanic folklore, old St. Nick has a demonic sidekick named Krampus whose job is to punish all the children who were naughty this year. When he's not spanking children, he's kidnapping them, drowning them or just eating the kids for dinner.

Krampus is a popular figure in the holiday celebrations of Germany, Austria and other Alpine countries, as adults don elaborate and beastly Krampus costumes, then roam the streets menacing children. It's a centuries-old tradition, but it never really caught on in the U.S. At least until now.

PHOTOS: Krampus Rampus at the Complex in Glendale

This season, a group of performers and artists brought “Krampusfest” to Los Angeles as a series of Krampus-themed events held throughout December. The festivities culminated this past Saturday with “Krampus Rumpus,” a high-octane music and variety show held at the Complex in Glendale.

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Attendees were encouraged to join in the spirit of the event, and many donned horns, pelts and other beastly get-ups. The event was emceed by an old-school Saint Nicholas in flowing robes of white and gold, who chastised the audience for being naughty in between musical acts.

Opening bands included the Krampus Choir, who sang Christmas carols with lyrics modified for the devilish theme, and the Free Range Orkestar, whose renditions of traditional Austrian folk melodies had the crowd bobbing at the knees. Things took a contemporary turn when the Soft Serve, billed as “Leipzig's biggest Minimal Synth Band,” took the stage. The duo of keyboardist and vocalist served up spare, industrial-tinged synth-pop with a campy German accent.

Outside, the venue's beer garden was transformed into “Mistress Krampus' Salon & Spankery,” complete with wooden stocks, chains and corseted she-devils swatting the self-confessed naughty with giant candy canes, whips and ruten — a bundle of twigs Krampus traditionally keeps on hand for unruly children. All night, stage acts had to compete with the sexy theatrics going on in the rear of the club.

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