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Amanda Palmer August 8 2008 Lakeshore Theater Chicago

In 2008, I was in Chicago for a conference. As the plane landed I was looking up shows in town for my week stay and was shocked to find Amanda Palmer was playing a solo gig the next night. And it was totally sold out. I had seen the Dresden Dolls before, but this Amanda solo thing was brand new. Apparently she had done a record, which had leaked just before I left for Chicago, but I hadn’t heard it yet.

After spending nearly my entire first 24 hours in town making calls to the venue, record stores, ticket agencies,  and even asking the hotel concierge if he could help, the evening was upon me and I was ticketless. I decided to head down and see if I could just find tickets waiting in line. When I got to the venue, the line was wrapped around the building. I started walking down the perimeter, and asked if anyone had extra tickets probably each batch of 5 people or so. I got to the end with no luck. So, I turned around and walked straight back up and asked again.

This repeated for about an hour. I had asked many of the same people, probably 5-6 times if they had tickets. The evil looks I was getting were almost enough to make me give up, but I decided to wait in line and see if maybe somehow by the time I got to the front my luck would change. I had taken to discussing the Dolls and AP (FYI: this was the pre-AFP era) with a couple that had driven all the way from Green Bay. They had seen the Dolls about a dozen times, and encouraged me to keep trying. Overhearing our conversation, other people waiting in line shared encouraging words and one girl even said “you were meant to get in this show.” I tended to agree!

When I was about 40 feet from the entrance, a bad falafel saved me. This girl came up to me with one ticket in hand. Her friend had eaten some bad falafel and was leaving. The ticket was mine. Victory was mine. I triumphantly proceeded inside and after checking out some wicked merch I couldn’t afford, I found my seat. And then I was introduced to Vermillion Lies. That could be a whole blog in of itself, but I reserve myself by relating to you that they ended their set with crowd holding hands, swaying, and singing along thusly.

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/Hz-G9qE-r8w" width="425" height="344" allowfullscreen="true" fvars="fs=1" /]

Suffice it to say that the night was off to a great start, and it was about to get even better! The lights went down, the cheering started, and then came the following. I ask you stop here, watch the video, and then continue reading.

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/XTXsoi603yU" width="425" height="344" allowfullscreen="true" fvars="fs=1" /]

Did you watch yet? If not, stop reading and play that video straight through.  I’ll be waiting for you.

Done? Ok, so I will in no way make the implication that Amanda Palmer is Michael Jackson. But if she was, this was her Motown 25 moment. Ok, so I just took a break from writing and watched that performance of Billie Jean. I reiterate, Amanda Palmer is no Michael Jackson. Anyway, Amanda went on to play many songs from the forthcoming Who Killed Amanda Palmer record, mostly just blowing us away one song after another. There were also some Dresden Dolls songs, several covers, and two encores. The full setlist can be found here.  She closed out the night with her now famous ukulele rendition of Creep, joined by the sisters Vermillion. At the time, nobody had heard her do this before. It was so fucking special.

Of course, anyone who has seen Amanda before knows it ALWAYS feels that way. That, my dear readers, is because it ALWAYS is. What makes Amanda so special, is that she knows it’s all about the fans. She gives us everything she has to give, and thats why we always keep coming back for more.  Unfortunately, this is the only video I could find of that closing number. However, despite the clipped audio, that crowd roaring pretty much captures the moment perfectly.

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/kw9vRSu742Y" width="425" height="344" allowfullscreen="true" fvars="fs=1" /]

If anyone reading this knows the girl who got sick on her falafel, or her friend who got me that ticket, please have her write me. I’d love to thank the both of you personally for having made possible one of my all time favorite concert experiences.

- breathmint

since we last spoke: version c

Installment three in my ongoing attempt to keep new music flowing to you even if I don’t have timer for full write ups. Would love to hear what you think about these!

- breathmint

New Snowden Remix / Video

Check out this new Snowden remix & video by Dave Rice & Mike Burrell. Apparently more is coming soon. We’ll keep you posted.

- breathmint

‘And This is My Lovely Friend Amanda’: The Tallest Man on Earth & Alessi’s Ark 15 March 2010, Bush Hall

This was my first show at Bush Hall, and had I not been walking with someone who knew where we were going, I probably would have walked past the entrance. Past innumerable hair shops (and a really good pub) on Uxbridge Road was the modest doorway into Bush Hall.

We got in and weaved through a portion of the crowd that filled up Bush Hall, a spacious yet intimate room with lovely Rococo ceiling detail. It got quite warm in the hall, given the full audience and the apparent lack of ventilation.

Alessi’s Ark started her performance with her friend on backing guitar. Alessi Laurent-Marke gave a lovely performance, despite the ceaseless chatter among the audience–mostly towards the back–which I thought was a bit unfortunate. The music of Alessi’s Ark is very darling, filled with a shy and earnest charm. She’s opening for Laura Marling on at least a couple shows next month in the UK, so if you haven’t had a chance to do so, and you like your indie folk feminine with a heavy dose of wide-eyed wonder, you may enjoy her.

Because I was having difficulty seeing Alessi perform during her act, in-between acts the suggestion was put forth to move up closer, since I’m such a shorty. Bush Hall is very flat. There was a balcony/mezzanine area towards the back of the hall, but already my companion and I were in the thick of the hot crowd, so the only way forward was to move forward, which we did until the crowd didn’t seem to allow us to go any further. There was seriously a gigantic beanstalk next to where I was standing, and I was utterly paranoid he was going to somehow wind up standing in front of me, but luckily, this was not so.

Kristian Matsson sauntered onto the stage, giving a sort of suspicious pirate glare at the crowd as he swigged from his bottle of beer. It was quite an entrance that seemed to have a lot more bravado than when I had seen him in Orlando last year opening for John Vanderslice. I think it was quite amusing.

So, the performance was quite lively and fantastic, punctuated by moments when Matsson would talk to the crowd. At one point, a man in the crowd shouted ‘I love you!’ to the performer. Everything stopped, and you can see Matsson’s face twist into this serious, stern facade as he slowly approached the microphone and asked, ‘What?’ It was comical, but what was interesting about these moments is that you never really knew if Matsson was joking with the crowd, or if he really acted this peculiar way, or if this is him being The Tallest Man on Earth.

I’ve been asked by friends unfamiliar with Kristian Matsson, so I will say no, he is not really very tall. I don’t think he reaches up to 6 ft, but his performances–the way he moves so kinetically to the point where at times he seems to nearly be trying to shake out of his skin–are very big.

Because the staff at Bush Hall did not make me check my camera at the door, I was able to take a few shots of The Tallest Man on Earth. I didn’t take very many, as I normally only like taking a very small handful of photos at an event, because I don’t wish to bother other people around me with the clicking of a camera, and also I because I came to a show to enjoy the performance. A few photos, then I’m done. The performance from The Tallest Man on Earth was definitely interesting and enjoyable, and he will be coming back to London on the 9th of June, and during the performance at Bush Hall, he said, ‘You know what? Next time, I’m gonna bring the banjo! Yeah.’

So yeah, they may get the banjo over at the Tabernacle in June, but we got to meet, in a way, Matsson’s ‘lovely friend Amanda,’ a young woman who did a duet with him on stage, which was quite a treat unless you were a young woman in the audience (or man, for that matter, like the guy who yelled out earlier) who was smitten with The Tallest Man on Earth. Heartbreak rippled through the crowd, as Matsson and Lovely Friend Amanda squeezed close to a lone microphone, or at least so it went in my imagination. Still, it was quite a performance, with a stunning final song that may be from his new album, which is something definitely to be excited about.

- quitepeculiar