Monday night was AWEsome. The Spiegel Tent is an amazing venue. It’s at the end of Pier 17 on the South Street Seaport, at the end of a maze of officious ticket booths and yuppie bars. The view from the pier was incredible!
So the Spiegel Tent is intimate – I get pretty claustrophobic at shows, but this was the most comfortable I’ve been in a long time. It felt like there weren’t more than 100 people there (although the website says it can seat 350, it didn’t feel empty). It was a similar experience to seeing her in a small club, although made more surreal/appropriate by the tent atmosphere and setup. Up first was a beatboxer with a sampler/effects pedal that was alright, then Vermillion Lies came on.
Vermillion Lies are two sisters, Zoe and Kim, Zoe playing guitar and keyboard and kazoo (among other things), Kim playing bells, puppet, accordian, etc etc. I had gone in thinking, “Who could open for Amanda Palmer and not seem lame or out of place?” I think they were the perfect opener – their cabaret songs are similar enough to appeal to the same crowd/mood, but veer in more humorous and postmodern directions that provide a nice variety. They engage more directly with pre-rock theatrical traditions than Amanda’s show*, sometimes playing specific characters for songs and having props (as in one song, where the percussion was Kim manipulating a wonderful vaudvillian doll to tap dance).
*Yes, Palmer’s shows both solo and with the Dresden Dolls use theater, but she seems to use it more as fodder and aesthetics to aid in cathartic punk deconstruction and emotional transcendence than for its own sake. That said, I haven’t seen her or the Dolls live before, and I understand that they have other people doing performative acts during/between the songs.
To my understanding, this show was the end of a pre-release tour for Who Killed Amanda Palmer?, her upcoming solo record. I am already addicted to several of the songs, from her MySpace linked above, the excellent video series, and this show. Over the past few months, Amanda Palmer has become one of my favorite songwriters and performers, and I look forward to seeing her again on her proper tour later this year. The show Monday was amazing, one of the best shows I’ve been to in a long time.
She came out lip-synching to a new Ben Folds song from his upcoming album – he did the production and some composition and performing on Who Killed…? I am a huge fan of his as well, so I was happy. She then went through some posterboard cards basically saying “Hi!” The shoe polish was still up and down her arms, but she’ll have to make more for the European tour, as the fans stole them from the stage at the end of the night Monday.
There are enough videos around for you to get some sense of what the show was like, I’ll hazard, and I’m a bit fried from this week at work being totally crazy, so I’ll leave it off there. Here are three flickr sets from the show.
Go see Amanda’s tour later this year! She’s bringing lots of great performance people. It promises to be the vaudeville punk cabaret experience of your lifetime!