Amanda Palmer and The Grand Theft Orchestra @ Crescent Ballroom | Saturday, Sept. 22, 2012
Amanda Palmer is a paradox. On the one hand, she exudes the energy of someone who wants everyone to be exactly who they are - no façade, no varnish. On the other, her shows are invariably filled with costumed theatrics.
There seem to be two Amanda Palmers and her best moments are when those two merge into one.
Last night's show at Crescent Ballroom felt close to devolving into chaos at times, with Palmer and Grand Theft Orchestra members running around stage exchanging instruments during "Missed Me." But as the show went on, Palmer pulled it back from the brink, dropping the energy down for piano solos and then pulling it back up with the "Phoenix Strings" sitting in for several songs including "Trout Heart Replica" from her new album, Theatre Is Evil.
"We didn't rehearse this," said Palmer. "And these guys slammed it."
During a mid-set interlude, Palmer was handed a small white box, which had been left at the merch table. Inside, audience members had written small notes about their saddest or most uncomfortable moments. Palmer proceeded to read several of them to the audience, all the while recording them into an iPhone.
"I was masturbating and thought of my dead friend, who would never do this again, came and cried," read one.
"My mom walked in on me masturbating and crying," read another.
"Those are two separate people," said Palmer. "I'm learning a lot about Phoenix."
Palmer clearly loves riffing with her audience and her band-mates, unconcerned with any particular song's perfection. But anyone who's seen her perform live, knows she approaches her art with a vicious sincerity.
Throughout the night, Palmer played the gracious host introducing all three opening acts including bass player in The Grand Theft Orchestra, Jherek Bischoff, The Simple Pleasure, and Ronald Regan - Boston's Premier 80's Pop Saxophone Duo.
Despite the occasional chaotic moment, Palmer's performance was as good as ever. And who likes perfection anyway?
Last Night: Amanda Palmer and The Grand Theft Orchestra.
Personal Bias: The first time I saw Palmer perform was as part of The Dresden Dolls duo as an opening act for Nine Inch Nails. I miss Brian Viglione on drums (sorry, us dark-haired Italians gotta stick together).
The Crowd: Everyone from 50-somethings to a smattering of suspender-wearing, borderline hipsters.
Random Notebook Dump: Palmer loves Twitter as much as her audience.
Coolest Moment: During "Bottomfeeder" (also from her new album), Palmer crowd-surfed through Crescent Ballroom sporting a 20-foot cape that draped over the audience.