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.
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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.
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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.
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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.