Steam Powered Giraffe (SPG) is a musical project formed in San Diego in 2008. The act combines the visual of robot pantomime with sketches, pop culture references, comic strips, improvised comedic dialogue, and original music.
According to the band's fictional backstory, the "musical automatons" were invented by a rich San Diego inventor named Colonel P. A. Walter in 1896 and kept in the Walter family over the years. Called the 8th 1/2 Wonder of the World, the robots were a technological marvel that ran off steam powered engines and artificial intelligence. The band's name is said to come from Walter's first robot, a giant mechanical giraffe. A fictional timeline on the band's website chronicles the band's supposed "appearances" throughout the years at such notable places as the 1933 Chicago World's Fair and The Ed Sullivan Show.
The robots are:
- The Spine (David Michael Bennett) is a futuristic dieselpunk robot with a titanium alloy spinal column and convincing human mannerisms. His skin is smooth silver, and he wears a black fedora and red tie. He plays guitar primarily, but also plays bass, mandolin, and keys.
- Rabbit (Isabella "Bunny" Bennett) is a copper clockwork robot, known for being the glitchiest of the robots. You'll likely see her in old videos as a male robot wearing a black coachman's hat with steampunk-style goggles on it and a black vest with red accents, but was gender swapped in 2014 following her performer coming out as transgender, making her the band's lone female. She plays accordion, melodica, keytar, and kazookaphone.
- Zero (Bryan Barbarin) is a swing-styled robot built out of prototype systems. He has a golden face, gloved hands, and a chain around his neck. Was retconned as a former member rejoining the band after Hatchworth's departure. He plays bass and piano.
- Upgrade (Erin Burke) was the only female robot in the group before January 2014. She left the band in 2011 to further pursue an acting career. Though her parts were removed from "Album One" and her character was considered to no longer be canon after she left the band, she returned along with the other former robots for the January 2018 reunion show.
- The Jon (Jon Sprague) was an art deco-style brass robot powered by soda (primarily Crystal Pepsi), who wore a tall black top hat and red suspenders. He played the mandolin, bass, guitar, drums, occasional keys, and the electric watermelon. The Jon left the group in September 2012, but did return for the January 2018 reunion show.
- Hatchworth (former human member Sam Luke) is a bronze automaton, who sports a black army jacket with red accents, knee-high boots, a bowler hat, and his signature ginger mustache. He had been kept in storage for many years due to a leaking and dangerous power core, but was recently repaired and put to use as the Walter Manor's butler. He possesses the ability to produce a "hatch's worth" of sandwiches from nowhere. He plays the bass and drums. Left at the end of 2016, but returned for the January 2018 reunion show.
Former human band members are:
- Matt Smith (no, not that Matt Smith, or that Matt Smith for that matter) was the new drummer following Sam Luke. His first performance with the band was the Yulemas concert. Left in 2014, but did return for the January 2018 reunion show.
- Sam Luke was the band's original drummer before taking on the role of Hatchworth. Famous for his distinctive bowler hat and moustache, his character went on to become a Walter Worker in the show's lore.
- Mr. Reed (Michael Philip Reed), the "One Man Band", was at first the only human member of the band. In the group, he did back-up vocals and played banjo, bass, guitar, keys, and drums. As a character, he was also the robot's mechanic and turned them all on before shows. He wore red goggles and a full body jumpsuit embroidered with the SPG logo and typically sported a purple tank top underneath. Due to his friendly nature he became a fan favorite. Left in 2014, rejoined full-time in early 2018, then left again in March 2020 due to moving out to a different country. Some months after, several fans made allegations of sexual harassment against him.
- Steve Negrete was the sound engineer and voiced Beebop and QWERTY for the band. He wore a bandanna and sported a sleeveless version of the humans' jumpsuits. He was overly attached to a small stuffed version of himself given to him by a fan, and rarely went to shows without it. After the allegations against Michael Reed came to light, he confessed to a similar misdemeanor and voluntarily parted ways with the band.
The Walter Workers - Currently played by two delightful ladies in labcoat dresses that run the merchandise table at concerts, they also participate in on-stage skits. Their characters are "Blue Matter Engineers", but are still fairly mysterious, with more and more hints being dropped about them.
- Walter Worker Chelsea (Chelsea Penyak) Shortly after Paige's departure from the band, a new Walter Girl by the name of Chelsea was announced. Her debut show was in April 2014 at Calico Ghost Town.
- Walter Worker Camille (Camille Penyak) Chelsea Penyak's almost identical sister (distinguished by a different hairstyle in costume), brought in to replace Carolina.
Former Walter Workers:
- Walter Girl Brianna (Brianna Clawson) It was announced via a post on David's tumblr that Brianna would no longer be working for the band.
- Walter Girl Paige (Paige Law) Similar to above, it was announced via a post on Bunny's tumblr that she and Paige are no longer a couple and therefore, Paige would no longer be working for the band.
- Walter Girl Gabi (Gabi Gonzales) After working at the merch table in a partial Walter Girl costume for several shows, Gabi filled in as a temporary Walter Girl at the MK III album release show in March 2014. Bunny has stated on her blog that Gabi may be called upon again if an understudy Walter Girl is needed.
- Walter Girl Carolina (Carolina Gumbayan) Carolina filled in for Brianna for the SPWF and Clockwork Alchemy shows, and was later brought on as a replacement. She later announced that Orlando Nerdfest would be her last show, as she is too busy as a psychology major to continue touring.
- Walter Tech Carissa (Carissa Anne Keil) Originally a fan character created by Bunny's girlfriend, but Bunny invited her to work the merch stand during their San Diego shows. Though she never appeared on stage she was also Rabbit's technician. Unlike Paige or Brianna, she did keep working with the group after her breakup with Bunny, but quietly left in February 2016 for personal reasons.
Human Back-ups - Sometimes things don't go as planned and someone can't make it to the gig. Back when the band consisted of more than just the robots, these were the people SPG routinely called on to help them out:
- Jesus Gonzales was the man they called when Mr. Reed was unavailable. Jesus can play guitar real good and sing harmonies.
- Mike Buxbaum the Drummer Man filled in for mysterious new drummer Matt at Youmacon and blew away the crowd.
- Album One (2009)
- Live at the Globe of Yesterday's Tomorrow (Live album, 2011)
- The 2¢ Show (2012)
- MK III (2013)
- The Vice Quadrant: A Space Opera (2015)
- Music From Steamworld Heist (2015)
- Quintessential (2016)
- 1896 (2020)
SPG provides examples of:
- Ac CENT Upon The Wrong Syl LA Ble: Hatchworth.
- Age-Progression Song: Captain Albert Alexander, going from when he was a boy to his death at "a ripe old age."
- All There in the Manual: If you're willing to do a bit of digging. While the band's official backstory and timeline are posted up on the band's official website, additional information can be found on the various character blogs, the band members' Tumblrs, during live concerts, and in pre-recorded videos which debuted at Walter Robotics Expo (a special event held in July of 2013). There are even bits of continuity mentioned during Bunny Bennett's art livestreams that you can't find anywhere else!
- A subdued version, but you won't discover that the titular Love World in "Love World of Love" is in fact a world infested with mutant, carnivorous heart-shaped monsters without reading the lyric booklet.
- Alternate Universe: Critical to understanding The Vice Quadrant. In 1950, Ignatius and Norman Becile tamper with Rabbit's blue matter core. The resulting explosion splits the timeline into Universe Prime and Universe Omega. Most of the differences result from the incident in 1962 when the dimensional portal emits a blue matter energy beam; in Universe Prime, the beam hits Cmdr. P.A. Walter IV aboard his ship the Cosmo, turning him into Commander Cosmo, while in Omega, the beam narrowly misses the Cosmo, eventually hitting a secret Russian space probe which had human DNA on board, resulting in the creation of Cosmica, the daughter of space. Meanwhile, the beam prompts Cmdr. Walter to study the portal further, spurring great leaps in technology. (For more, see the Vice Quadrant timeline.)
- Ambiguously Human: The Blue Matter engineers.
- American Accents: Rabbit sports a bit of a Joisey accent.
- Art Evolution: ...well, make-up evolution. All the bots started off with much more simplistic designs. Rabbit's has changed the most, and she is even beginning to oxidize! Her new design also adds a spiral to her forehead, and her makeup changes constantly (going so far as to include pincers where her jawline should be!)
- The Artifact: The lyrics to "Clockwork Vaudeville" refer to "four metal people", even though Upgrade's parts were removed from the album.
- Audience Participation Song: Michael Reed always encouraged the audience to sing along during "Make Believe".
- "Brass Goggles" as well, as evidenced by the pre-song dialogue: "This is a sing along, this next song!"
- Awesome Anachronistic Apparel: They're a steampunk band, what do you expect? (Well, The Spine's more dieselpunk...) They were voted "Best Costume - Group" in the 2013 Steampunk Gazette Reader's Choice Awards.
- Badass Baritone: The Spine.
- Rabbit, too. Especially prominent in her bass harmonies in Rex Marksley, and the beginning of Suspender Man.
- Badass Mustache: Hatchworth.
- Backstory Horror: Quite a bit, involving the wars the bots were sent to fight in, Hatchworth's confinement due to his unstable core, what effects the Walter Girls' exposure to Blue Matter could have on them over time (and whether it's dangerous), and the theft of Rabbit's core resulting in an explosion that killed several people ... including Peter Walter II. Then there's the fact that Rabbit apparently still feels guilt over this, judging by how her bio states that she spends her free time feeding the ducks at the pond by the Walter Cemetery.
- Bald Women: Bunny is completely bald (though she wears wigs quite often when out of character), and so was the original design for her character Rabbit. This was averted with Rabbit's temporary second design in early 2014, which gave her two types of hair: human hair, and "robotic" hair that resemble dreadlocks. Rabbit's new design introduced in March 2014 instead gives her an elaborate headpiece with a mix of large metal bolts, rabbit ears, and feather-like protrusions.
- Averted since late 2014. She started wearing wigs on stage (the story explanation being that the ears fold into the head and hair comes out) and since the music videos for Vice Quadrant, has had Isabella's real bright pink hair.
- Become a Real Boy: The Jon claims to want this, though he may just be influenced by watching Pinocchio a few too many times.
- After a lot of fan speculation, Word Of God finally confirmed that The Spine's mannerisms were influenced by his desire to become human.
- Beyond the Impossible: The Jon riding a quesadilla like a horse at the end of "Ice Cream Parade".The Jon: My horse is the greatest horse / 'Cause it's not really a horse at all! / It's more like a tortilla / On top of another tortilla / Filled with gooey cheese / And fresh salsa too / And they forgot my sour cream...Rabbit: (confused) You can't ride a quesadilla!The Jon: Uh, sure you can. Check it out! (proceeds to do exactly that)
- Big Bad: Originally, The Vice Quadrant's closest thing to a Big Bad is Cosmica, but once she's relegated to Disc-One Final Boss status, the real Big Bad, the Necrostar, later the Necronaut, appears.
- Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: The trio of Rabbit, the Spine, and Hatchworth.
- Break Up Song: "Honeybee"
- Butt-Monkey: In their stage performances, Hatchworth or The Spine are often this, as seen here.
- "Go Spine Go" from the album MK III consists almost entirely of Rabbit and Hatchworth treating The Spine as this.
- The Bus Came Back: Hatchworth, the Jon, Upgrade, Michael Reed, and Matt Smith all returned for the band's January 2018 anniversary concert along with the current band members.
- California: They're currently active in San Diego.
- Character Blog: Several. One for each bot, one for Peter Walter VI, and one for Becile Industries (a rival company to Walter Robotics). Even GG, the robot giraffe who appeared in the band's video for "Diamonds", has her own.
- Walter Girl Paige also has an (in character) Twitter account.
- Chest Blaster: Hatchworth can unleash a vast array of artillery from his portal-armed cannon.
- Chronological Album Title: Album One, The 2¢ Show, MK III, The Vice Quadrant, Quintessential, and 1896.
- Clockwork Creature: Rabbit is supposedly a clockwork robot.
- Cloudcuckoolander: The Jon fits this trope to a T, especially if his songs are taken into consideration.
- ''Go Spine Go!" almost entirely consists of Rabbit and Hatchworth making up obviously untrue things about The Spine. The Spine spends most of the song objecting to these claims (Before giving up and swearing to quit the band someday).
- The Comically Serious: The Spine. Most of the time.
- Computer Voice: Beebop.
- Cover Version: They've been known to cover The Beatles "Mystery Tour" live.
The Spine: I am a diamond.
- As well as Rick Astley's "Never Gonna Give You Up", just for fun.
- The Spine covered Rihanna's "Diamonds". It was magical.
- The Cover Changes the Meaning: Rihanna's original song "Diamonds" is a tragic story about surviving after grief. The Steam Powered Giraffe cover? A robot practices his Casanova in a recording studio, unaware that the whole thing's gonna wind up on YouTube.
- Crapsack World: Scary World, but later defied in Bleak Horizon.Hey now, no need to be frightenedCause as long as we're together there is nothing to fearI don't believe in a bleak horizonI won't concede to any of thatWhat we need now is something differentWhat we need now is a... Steam Powered Giraffe!
- If "The Ballad of Delilah Morreo" is anything to go by, people can't even die right
- Create Your Own Villain: By sealing himself away in a dying star, Commander Cosmo accidentally created the Necrostar.
- Dada Comics: Steam Powered Giraffe: The Web Comic.
- Dark Reprise: "Soliton", originally a love song sung by the Astronaut about the Daughter of Space, is briefly reprised near the end of "Oh No", as the Astronaut, forcefully separated from his love, is dying.
- The beginning of "Burning in the Stratosphere" receives one in "Hold Me" (and before that, a brief reprise at the beginning of "Commander Cosmo"), which flips perspective from Peter Walter IV to Holly, his girlfriend who he left behind.
- Quintessential has a darker version of the intro from "The Vice Does Tight" as well as a far darker Call-Back to the end of "The Speed Of Light" as the Necronaut sets his sights on Earth at the very end.
- "The Vice Does Tight" is briefly reprised at the very end of "Necrostar", giving the song a sadder, more hopeless tone.
- Dashingly Dapper Derby: Hatchworth sports a bowler.
- Deadpan Snarker: QWERTY is deadpan by default due to being an AI, but he really turns the snark on towards GiGi the Giraffe during "Where Is Everyone?" near the end of disc 1 of Vice Quadrant.
- Deconstructive Parody: "Olly and the Equinox Band" is this to 60s cartoons, where the band is annoyed and resigned to the fact that they have to fight evil while touring.
- Demonic Possession: "Necrostar" heavily implies that this happened to the dying Astronaut courtesy of the titular character. The Vice Quadrant timeline directly confirms it.
- Dieselpunk: The Spine (and The Jon, to a lesser extent).
- Disc-One Final Boss: Cosmica could be considered an early Big Bad on The Vice Quadrant for the sheer amount of damage that she and her Dragon the Astronaut cause, but she turns out to be this once Commander Cosmo convinces her to stop and the Astronaut's released from her thrall.
- Easily Detachable Robot Parts: Both The Spine and Hatchworth can detach their heads from their bodies.
- Eating Machine: The Jon. Also, Rabbit.
- Epic Rocking: "Captain Albert Alexander," "Rex Marksley," and "Airheart"
- Don't forget "Clockwork Vaudeville," "Electricity Is In My Soul," "Steamboat Shenanigans," "Honeybee," "Scary World," "The Suspender Man," and, of course, "Automatonic Electronic Harmonics." Guess these guys just have a lot to sing about.
- Evil Twin: By way of Alternate Universe, Omega!Walter IV (the Astronaut) to Prime!Walter IV (Commander Cosmo). The former isn't exactly that evil by himself, but circumstances and the well-documented heroism of the latter force the contrast.
- Fantastic Nuke: Blue Matter and Green Matter are both spooky materials that can give you gobs of clean energy, or explode and mutilate you.
- Funny Robots.
- Follow the Bouncing Ball: This happens in the music video for "Brass Goggles."
- The Game of the Book:
- Steam Powered Giraffe, the card game.
- Steamworld Heist, the video game.
- Generic Name: The Space Giant. Though according to Sam, this was intentional.
- Genre-Busting: They're a Steampunk Generational Saga Horror Comedy with puppets.
- Genre Roulette: They've toyed around with and blended folk, funk, rock, soul, pop and hip-hop.
- Goggles Do Nothing: Rabbit's goggles.
- Quite literally - when Rabbit wears the goggles, Bunny Bennett cannot see a thing through them.
- Gratuitous English: MKIII has a track that's mostly in Japanese. The chorus goes like this:Shteam-power giraffe-o!
- Hunter of His Own Kind: "The Ballad of Delilah Morreo".
- "I Am" Song: "Clockwork Vaudeville", "Steam Man Band", "Necrostar".
- Incompatible Orientation: Bunny Bennett has implied that this may have been the reason Delilah Moreau never chose between Thadeus Becile and Peter Walter I.
- Confirmed in "The Ballad of Delilah Morreo", which outright states that she was only intellectually attracted to them.
- In the Style of... David stated that Roller Skate King was meant to sound like something that could have been on School House Rock.
- Kayfabe Music: Much of their appeal is attributed to their unusually well-developed stage personas and backstory.
- Keet: The Jon and Rabbit.
- Love Triangle: According to their backstory, the whole reason the singing musical automatons were built was because Peter Walter I wanted to get ahead of his romantic rival Thadeus Becile in winning the heart of Hot Scientist Delilah Moreau, and she was "rumored to have a soft spot for music."
But there ain't no man
- The Ballad of Delilah Morreo seems to imply neither of them succeeded, and that she was a lesbian who was only intellectually attracted to them. Who died and got resurrected by one of them as an immortal Vampire Queen.
For this Vampire Queen
- Lyrical Dissonance: Fire Fire combines the band's catchy upbeat family friendly musical style with a tragic tale of people burning to death in a spaceship. In contrast, David Michael Bennett's solo performance of the same song plays the heart-breaking tragedy of the lyric straight.
- Man Behind the Man: As the timeline linked above mentions, the Necrostar is behind quite a few threats to Earth. And possibly the Space Giant threatening the Green Apple Planet, as he outright admits to influencing him.
- Man of a Thousand Voices: Spine is capable of reaching a Badass Baritone to a high pitched falsetto. Rabbit too, who's even capable of imitating her brother almost flawlessly to comedic effect during live shows.
- Marty Stu: Invoked and parodied in their song Captain Albert Alexander.
- Memetic Badass: Attempted and denied In-Universe. The Spine is not a superspy who uses his gadgets to topple governments, and he will not fight rampaging bears on your behalf.
- Minor Injury Overreaction: Beebop has a habit of ordering shutdowns and tuneups of the bots in the middle of concerts whenever he detects something that will increase the possibility of a malfunction. The trouble with this is that the increased chances of failure are usually a laughably small fraction of a percent, and the robots always lampshade this.
- Mohs Scale of Rock and Metal Hardness: They're usually at a 1 or 2, occasionally shifting into 3 with "Ju Ju Magic" and "Automatonic Electronic Harmonic". "Fancy Shoes" used to be their hardest song, creeping up to a 4 at times. However, Vice Quadrant includes more of their faster and harder songs than before. In particular, "Necrostar" and "Sky Sharks" dip into 5 at times and "Progress & Technology" sit around a high 4.
- Mood Whiplash: "Dream Machine" is a soft, soothing song that closes out Quintessential. Unfortunately, it leads right into the Dark Reprise of "The Vice Does Tight", which is decidedly NOT soft or soothing and is what actually closes out the album.
- "Photographic Memories" is a rather bouncy love song until the reprise of the opening lyrics near the end reveals the subject of the song as having already passed away, which deviates it straight into heartbreak.
- "Oh No" goes from space epic into a sad ending as the Astronaut, separated from Cosmica, is allowed to pass away. And then it leads straight into the creepy Villain Song "Necrostar" as the titular villain escapes the interdimensional prison, merging with the body of the Astronaut and giving rise to the Necronaut.
- Motor Mouth: Rabbit.
- Mr. Fanservice: The Spine.
- While an out of character example, Mr. Reed's blog is filled with enough pictures of a fit man in revealing clothes to ascend him to unexpected fan favorite status.
- Jon has a habit of popping up in pictures on Tumblr in his boxer. Most notably in this picture◊ from Michael's blog.
- Ms. Fanservice: Bunny has her moments, too. Such as vlogging with her shirt half-open/in a robe. Not to forget that one... marketing strategy. Live shows after she redesigned the character to be a female robot now have her shaking her hips quite a bit during some songs (plus there's the below mentioned addition of Of Corsets Sexy to her design).
- While an out of character example, Mr. Reed's blog is filled with enough pictures of a fit man in revealing clothes to ascend him to unexpected fan favorite status.
- Multicolored Hair: Upgrade had bright red streaks in hers, and the Walter Girls all have blue streaks in their hair due to their exposure to Blue Matter when working on the bots. Rabbit's temporary early 2014 upgrade gave her black and red cyberdreads (since been replaced by the above mentioned elaborate headpiece and more recently by pink hair), and sound engineer Steve Negrete is well known for his multicoloured dreadlocks.
- My God, What Have I Done?: The second half of "Oh No". "I've killed so many, what've I done?"
- My Hero, Zero: Zero is a unique robot, given that he's literally built out of incomplete systems and significantly physically stronger than the others.
- Mythology Gag: Zero's backstory describes him as a robot that was formerly a member of the band, but who had left and had all traces of him removed, even his contributions to songs. While this is a Retcon, something very similar occurred when Upgrade left the band in Real Life.
- Narrative Poem: "Captain Albert Alexander"
- Also "Airheart", "Rex Marksley", "The Suspender Man", "Leopold Expeditus" and several others.
- Neoclassical Punk Zydeco Rockabilly: They've toyed around with and blended folk, funk, rock, soul, pop and hip-hop.
- Nice Hat: Rabbit's coachman hat, The Spine's fedora, Hatchworth's derby, and The Jon's top hat.
- Also Upgrade's hat◊.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: A certain degree of "hero", anyway. Ravaxis Starburner freed Commander Cosmo to go take on Cosmica and the Astronaut. All well and good, right? He did so by blowing up the Necrostar, which led to a surviving piece of it breaking free from the interdimensional prison sealing it and Cosmo away, which in turn led to it discovering the Astronaut's body and taking it over, creating the Necronaut.
- Nice Shoes: "Fancy Shoes"
- Nightmare Fuel Station Attendant: Hatchworth is sometimes prone to this.
- Nobody Loves the Bassist: Zig-zagged, in the cases where Mr. Reed is the bassist then it's played straight, but when The Spine or Hatchworth are the bassist it's averted.
- Also averted when Carolina was given Hatchworth's bass to play at the end of Brass Goggles. The crowds went wild.
- Noisy Robots: The robots frequently make the sounds of hydraulics, especially when they are starting up or shutting down.
- Not So Above It All: As much as The Spine like to think of himself as the normal one of the band, he can be just as eccentric, if less outward about it. Case in point: his cover of "Diamonds" by Rihanna.
- Of Corsets Sexy: Rabbit has been known to wear a corset on occasion.
- Only Sane Man: Out of all the robots, The Spine is the most level-headed.
- Ordinary People's Music Video: The "Malfunction" video has the band singing in their stage personas, intercut with video of fans and band members each holding a poster of some personal obstacle or difference they need to embrace.
- Piss Take Rap: "Overdrive" has one.
- Poor Communication Kills: If only Jumbo the Space Whale had told Starburner that Commander Cosmo was not alone in that interdimensional prison...
- Pungeon Master: Rabbit, much to The Spine's annoyance.
The Spine: Hi. I'm The Spine, and I was built with a titanium alloy spine.
- The Spine has his moments as well.
The Jon: A-heh! Ah... and?
The Spine: And what?
The Jon: Is that it?
The Spine: Yeah.
The Jon: Well, there's gotta be more.
The Spine: No. That's my, uh, backstory.
- Red and Black and Evil All Over: Inverted; despite the color scheme, the robots are good.
- Ret-Gone: All references to Upgrade have been removed from the band's promotional material since her departure.
- This policy also applies to the group's YouTube channel. Mentioning Upgrade is a good way to get yourself blocked.
- Word Of God has it that The Jon and Hatchworth will not receive the same fate. Although by the time Hatchworth left, all direct references to The Jon in the lore along with most references on the website were removed.
- Subverted six years later with the confirmation that Upgrade's contributions to Album One would be restored.
- Finally averted in 2018, with all former robots and band members returning for the reunion concert, as well as Upgrade and The Jon being returned to the lore.
- Revolving Door Band: While the two siblings and their characters (Rabbit and the Spine), as well as sound engineer Steve Negrete, are constant, the rest of the band has changed constantly, most noticeably with them now being on their third replacement robot (Upgrade contributed to Album One, The Jon to Album One and The 2 Cent Show, Hatchworth to Mk III, The Vice Quadrant and Quintessential, and new-old friend Zero going forward).
- Ridiculously Human Robots
- Robosexual: The Spine has had to put up with advances from humans on multiple occasions, and there may have been a relationship with a human in his past.
- The song Photographic Memories confirms The Spine has been in at least one relationship with a human woman. It didn't end well.
- Robot Names: Hatchworth (A name describing his function), The Spine (it describes his skeletal structure), Rabbit (reference to robotic glitches), The Jon (References to pop culture/actual human names), Upgrade (Slightly mutated terms related to math/machinery/electronics), Zero (built out of prototype pieces, arguably the "first").
- Rule of Funny: Many of the minor details of the robots features and abilities seem to be governed what would be most interesting or funny at the time. For example, the robots cannot and do not eat, except for Rabbit's love of ice cream.
- Running Gag: Too many to count.
- "Second Law" My Ass!:
- Hatchworth and Rabbit have no problem disobeying the Walters. The bots generally have a good relationship with humans, though.
- "Only Human" shows their service is more affectionate than obedient.
- Sharp-Dressed Man: Er, robots.
- Shout-Out: The title of "Airheart" is an obvious one to Amelia Earhart.
Answers stem more questions and grow my algorithms anew
- "Please Explain" has a reference to Isaac Asimov:
If there's no more concepts to grasp what would I, Robot, do?
When I say that I love you
- "Malfunction" has a reference to The Rocky Horror Picture Show:
Damnit Janet take it as true!
You know the kind that wear fancy bow ties
- "GG The Giraffe" has film references galore:
And serve you dinner just like they do for Mary Poppins and that Dick Van Dyke guy!
I guess it would also be kind of neat
If that penguin could keep a beat with his (beat) happy feet.
Even Hatchy's Fancy Shoes cant compare to the way she grooves
- GG also shouts out the band themselves in the same song:
She's shiner than The Spine, and Rabbit ain't got nothing on her moves!
- SkeleBot 9000: The Spine, whose black-and-silver colour scheme, lack of hair, thin pointy neck and minimalist face designs fit this trope. He is also literally named after his spine.
- Smart People Build Robots: The robots were supposedly created by a rich inventor named Col. P.A. Walter.
- The Smurfette Principle: Until Upgrade left. Reinstated as of Rabbit's gender swap, unless you count the Walter Girls.
- Something Completely Different: The Steam Powered Giraffe Hour is normally an opportunity to see the members discuss upcoming events and projects, movies and video games, and maybe goof around a little. The April 26th episode was done entirely in-character and acted out by the band members using a set of crocheted plushies of the robots sent to them by a fan. Unsurprisingly, it is widely considered the best one by the fans.
- Spell My Name with a "The": The Spine. Also, former member The Jon.
- Rabbit was originally called The Rabbit.
- Spoof Aesop: The lesson of The Suspender Man is "don't wear pants, or you'll make a Deal with the Devil for suspenders." May also be a Fantastic Aesop.
- Star Killing: Starburner is not a nickname.
- Steampunk: Obviously.
- Strange Minds Think Alike: Rabbit and The Spine in the DVD, as pointed out by this photoset.
- Take That!: In her official bio, it is mentioned that GG read all five Twilight books in five minutes and promptly burned them upon finishing.
- Tall Tale: Their song "Rex Marksley" is one in the vein of Pecos Bill.He shot lightning from his hands with a miraculous invention,
and zapped that evil demon train back to its own dimension
That giant copper ore golem, oh it was a fright,
till Rex projectiled pick axes with dynamite
He fought the corrupt Rattlesnake King and it hissed in agony,
then Rex taught all the jackalopes to yodel in harmony.
- Team Pet: G.G.
- Three Chords and the Truth: The Spine appears to be a believer in this style of playing.
- Toilet Humour: "Go Spine Go" has this in spades.
- Token Human: Michael Reed (until they added drummer Sam Luke and sound technician Steve Negrete).
- With the departure of most of the human band members, Steve Negrete now fills this role. (The jury's still out on the Walter Girls.)
- Michael Reed has been reinstated as of 2017.
- Too Many Belts: Rabbit wears three over her corset. In the music video for "Automatonic Electronic Harmonics" she briefly wears six belts. Rabbit also wears six belts for certain live performances.
- Unperson: Upgrade has been completely wiped from the band's history. Reportedly, the band had an especially bad falling out with her actress following her departure, although the relationship seems to have healed with time. Erin says that following Upgrade's departure, she was decommissioned after trying to take Kate Middleton's place to become a "pretty pretty princess".
- She has since been returned to canon following the January 2018 reunion show.
- Unusual Ears: One of Rabbit's designs replaced the hat with a pair of rabbit ears.
- Verbal Tic: Rabbit has a stuttering vocal glitch oftentimes when speaking. It doesn't come up when she sings, though.
- Villain Song: "Necrostar". The Dark Reprise of "The Vice Does Tight" at the end of Quintessential.
- Virtual Celebrity
- Vocal Dissonance: Rabbit's appearance is decidedly feminine, with huge fake eyelashes and a poofy skirt. However, she can sing in a baritone range almost as easily as The Spine can. Justified in that Bunny and David Michael Bennett are identical twins (Bunny being transgender), so their vocal chords are similar.
- Wham Episode: The entirety of The Vice Quadrant... especially "Oh No."
- Wham Line:
"Commander Cosmo, come in. Commander Cosmo, come in. This is Space Militia Ten.
- "See you next time... in space!"
- "The Speed of Light". "I'm not alone against the world anymore. Look out Earth."
- Following MK III's example of end of the album Whams, we have this conversation at the very end of Vice Quadrant...
"Earth Space Militia Ten, this is Commander Cosmo."
"It's good to hear from you Commander. The Astronaut has been eliminated. Your plan did seem to work, Sir."
"Once they were separated I got her to see reason. She let him die."
"What about her? Is she eliminated as well?"
"Don't worry about her, she's with me. General, there's something out here. I'm going to need to recruit a few heroes."
"Heroes? You mean like yourself? Who did you have in mind, Commander?"
"All of them."
"Look out... Earth." Cue Evil Laugh
- It appears to be becoming tradition, as Quintessential ends with a Dark Reprise of "The Vice Does Tight" as well as the Wham of "The Speed of Light", despite containing no previous Vice Quadrant references, as the Necronaut sets his sights upon Earth.
- "During 'laying in your arms' by Olly and the Eqinox band, a jazzy love song, until the Necronought destroys the venue... and threatens to kill the band... with the vice does tight in the background
- Who Wants to Live Forever?: Turn Back the Clock is a sad song about the band's relationship with a little girl, watching her grow up and have a child of her own with the bots not seeming to completely understand why time effects her differently than them.
- Photographic Memories is another sad song in the same vein, except now about The Spine falling in love with a human woman whom he outlives, and finds himself unable to cope with the loss as a human would.
- Who Would Want To Listen To Us?: From the start of MK III:Steve: You mean someone is actually trying to play the album?Beebop: Affirmative.Steve: Wow, I did not expect that
- Word Salad Lyrics: "Ju Ju Magic", "Please Explain" and the rap in "Overdrive".
- Honestly, most The Jon songs fit under this.
- Working with the Ex: Bunny's ex Carissa is an additional Walter Tech during shows in San Diego, but she doesn't appear on stage.