Midway through his band's set Saturday night at the Middle East, Adam Glasseye asked the audience, ''You guys like waltzes?," and immediately answered his own question: ''Of course you do. Of course you do." Considering the predilection for the slightly off-kilter sway of 3/4 time shown not just by defending Rock 'n' Roll Rumble champion Reverend Glasseye but also by the supporting acts, anyone who was inclined to object had wandered into the wrong CD release party.
The album being feted was Glasseye's latest, ''Our Lady of the Broken Spine," and its Edward Gorey oompah was brought to the stage by a 12-piece band featuring upright bass, a horn section, and four backing vocalists (including Holly Brewer and Mat McNiss, pulled from openers Humanwine). All were clad in red and black like a gothic, expanded White Stripes, and none was redder or blacker than Glasseye, proffering himself as an amalgam of preacher and huckster.
A band as large as Glasseye's can provide a performer a tremendous degree of flexibility, but it can also lock him into an unvarying sound, and many of the songs were simply variations working from the same template. The almost exclusively minor-key material had the feel of a funereal carnival, and numbers such as ''King of Men" and ''Promenade" rolled through multiple sections, some with fake-out false endings, before building to climaxes of nonsense chanting.
If any of it seemed flat, that was attributable to the imprudence of following World/Inferno Friendship Society, which was precisely the guise that a lot of people think the devil will take. Charismatic, nattily dressed frontman Jack Terricloth was like the Master of Ceremonies from ''Cabaret" if he had survived into the postpunk era, and the band's explosive set had the vaguely unsettling aura of a fascist rally. Unlike Reverend Glasseye's, the performance offered a genuine sense of danger that extended well beyond the moshing, slamdancing crowd that seemed on the verge of erupting into anarchy at any moment.
Humanwine opened the show with a multiethnic cabaret act laced with exaggerated drama. Ho-Ag followed with a set of math-rock played with hardcore energy reminiscent of the Minutemen.