Amanda Palmer at First Avenue, 10/3/12

Categories: Concert Review
Photo by Stacy Schwartz
Amanda Palmer & the Grand Theft Orchestra
First Avenue, Minneapolis
Wednesday, October 3, 2012

There's no doubt about it, Amanda Palmer is a force to be reckoned with, onstage and off. Going to a performance featuring Palmer isn't an idle, listening-only experience: it's a full-blown theatrical performance filled with laughs and wonder, sadness and passion.

See also:
Slideshow: Amanda Palmer at First Avenue
Amanda Palmer on Theater Is Evil, Twitter and assless pants
Amanda Palmer on crowd-sourced musicians, Emily White, and kerfuffles

The singer greeted the crowd in a long, white kimono after husband Neil Gaiman told a rousing, hilarious story to a crowd more than willing to eat up his every word and punchline with whoops and guffaws (seriously, guffaws). If nothing else, it was worth it to arrive early and see Gaiman scream "Fuck" into the microphone, revealing the first time as a child that he realized words held power.

Amanda Palmer and the Grand Theft Orchestra opened their set with an instrumental piece backlit against heavy strobe lights pulsating on the white sheet hanging upstage. Clad in a bra, gypsy-chic bangles and necklaces, a corset, and gold leggings, Palmer fit the part of a rock star. Though she did trade her signature curlycue eyebrows for a pair of black squares painted over her eyes.

It was 10:30 when they started peforming and the band was raring to go, bopping along to the Cure as First Avenue's screen lifted. After a quick introduction, they launched into "Smile (Pictures or It Didn't Happen)." For their part, the crowd took the words to heart, and there only one point at which there wasn't a phone or camera from the floor focused on Palmer (see the White Box below).

Staying true to the album order, Palmer launched into "The Killing Type" right after. While this is already one of Theater Is Evil's standout songs, it was obvious that the song was infinitely better live. It quickly became evident that all Palmer's songs are made for dual purposes -- not just listening through headphones, but for truly experiencing the verve and pent-up energy unleashed during a live performance.

From slapping herself silly to accidentally throwing a rogue bracelet across the stage to screaming into a bullhorn, Palmer lost herself in her songs and the audience went right along with her. For a Wednesday night, the crowd buzzed with excitement and Palmer gave them "the gold medal for awesomeness" dedicating the last night of the tour to them.

Stacy Schwartz
For whatever reason (weeknight, Palmer's kerfuffle, or what-have-you) First Avenue wasn't at capacity, and there was room for even vertically-challenged listeners to see the stage. However, when Palmer opened up her arms towards the audience during "Bottom Feeder," took a deep breath and plunged into the crowd, half the floor rushed the stage vying for a chance to touch Palmer. More than once, Palmer dove into the audience and crowd surfed, letting her fans literally hold her up just as they did with their contributions to her album's Kickstarter campaign.

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