When I recently attended a marketing conference in Boston, HubSpot’s INBOUND 2012 to be more specific, the last thing I expected to see on the massive screen during a keynote was reference to Amanda Palmer. SXSW has traditionally led in terms of melding the natural marriage between the music and digital worlds, but to see it in this forum seemed foreign. Although it made a bit of sense, considering Boston is one of a few cities that Amanda calls home, I couldn’t help but wonder how many in the audience were familiar with her work as a solo artist or of her days with the Dresden Dolls, which seems like another lifetime ago.
It was a welcomed interjection into the discussion of ‘digital marketing,’ which can be a bit difficult to focus on at 9am in the morning. I was pleased to see Amanda’s tenacity and the genuine one-on-one relationships she’s built with fans online receive the recognition she deserves. She is indeed an example of how to build a following organically through a lot of time, work, giving-a-shite-attitude and Tweets.
This time and effort led to the widely discussed Kickstarter campaign, which funneled many pledge dineros into Amanda’s making of the Theatre is Evil album (September 2012, 8ft Records), “this album and the accompanying art book were made possible through the POWER OF CROWDFUNDING. Thank you to every single person who backed the Kickstart to make this happen,” she writes in the liner notes.
The woman already had the base of talent to continue take her career into the next of many phases; it has just been a matter of knowing how to use the tools available to every musician and enough sense to use them wisely.
Looking at the accolades received by her fans and the press alike, Theatre is Evil is one album for the record books, a standout family of tunes that will no doubt end up on many a “Best of” lists for 2012.
It’s comprised of classically trained tunes such as “The Bed Song,” which flows with the piano beauty in Amanda had cultivated as one facet of her unique Berlin style; poetic, poignant, and sometimes painful rhymes, along with a musical ode “Berlin,” the German city that made it’s mark on her soul many years ago.
Along the lines of introspection, “Grown Man Cry” gives me chills with every listen. If there’s one thing that Amanda has is the ability to clearly see what’s in front of her, and then put those visions into words, conveying all the beauty and ugliness that is the world and the human condition, including the cat and mouse game of ‘romance.’
The other side of Amanda’s many coins is “The Killing Type,” which saunters with a powerful bravado, twisting touches of 80s new wave around her little finger as she makes her way down your throat. Not giving you any chance to catch your breath, “Do It With A Rockstar” soars to the sky right off the bat, and back down to tornado through all the cells in your brain, grabbing hair and leaving scratch marks on the back, and then diving right into a mosh pit chorus.
A kaleidoscope of colors swirl and bounce on “Massachusetts Avenue,” a “My Sharona” beat accompanies “Melody Dean,” and we all get to revert to our childhood for a few on “Olly Olly Oxen Free,” all seemingly innocent in musical structure, but as you would expect if you are a fan of Amanda’s work, the songs in Theatre is Evil are not only layered with many orchestrated delights, but are fused together with cerebral thought structures and personal observations.
Who knew thinking and dancing and weeping and rocking out could be so much fucking fun?
Amanda Palmer and The Grand Theft Orchestra (and maybe a few local artists…and I’m just putting the link to her blog post about the whole “crowd-sourced musicians” kerfuffle, since in my opinion, it’s a whole lot to do about nothin’) plays tomorrow night at the Gothic Theatre. Before that she’ll be doing a Meet-N-Greet at Twist and Shout from 4pm to 5pm.
Check out the remaining tour dates here.