In November of 2008 a friend convinced me I should not miss seeing Amanda Palmer, who was at the time touring behind her first solo album Who Killed Amanda Palmer along with a gang of brilliant Australian performers called the Danger Ensemble. Luckily I took this advice and went to the show at NYC's Webster Hall, most of which I spent in complete awe. I hadn't been this energized by a live show in years, and the show became an instant addition to my best-concerts-of-all-time list. So I'm telling you now, don't miss this show, especially if you believe in Art, Love, and Creativity.
I've seen AFP (her nickname, the middle initial stands for EFFING) a few times since and have managed to drag friends to the shows, all of whom have had the same reaction as I. This is a major talent who, someday, and not too long from now I guarantee, will conquer the world. Here's a quick rundown on her adventures since that night I first saw her at Webster Hall:
She collaborated with Steven Bogart at her alma mater, Lexington High School, to develop a production called With the Needle that Sings in Her Heart inspired by Neutral Milk Hotel's seminal album In the Aeroplane Over the Sea and Anne Frank's Diary. Bogart, Palmer's former high school theater teacher, wrote the play with Palmer and LHS theater students in the spring of 2009. More about this here.
Palmer's label for the past few years, Roadrunner Records, inspired a controversy by wanting to excise clips of her exposing her stomach in the video Leeds United, saying she looked too fat. This led to her fans creating the ReBellyon movement, posting photos of their own stomachs on the web and plying Roadrunner with their extreme displeasure of artistic censorship. Palmer started a very public campaign to be released from her contract with the label, which finally happened this past April.
After the current tour ends on June 19 in Boston, Palmer's next project is to star in a new production of Cabaret as the Master of Ceremonies this fall with the American Repertory Theater at the Oberon in Cambridge. Directed by the aforementioned Steven Bogart, Kander and Ebb's amazing musical will no doubt never be the same. AFP plans to invite a number of guest artists to parties and shows at the theatre throughout the run.
Palmer is the social media rock & roll queen, often organizing secret shows via twitter and utilizing that speed of light world billboard for everything from finding her road crew places to stay to suggestions for the best place to have breakfast in the back of beyond. She shares her creative process constantly and with incredible intimacy on her blog. On the current tour, which is supporting the record Evelyn Evelyn that Palmer recorded with Jason Webley, she came up with Ninjaview! - whereby fans in each city can have the chance to interview her and Webley backstage at the show providing they immediately upload the video to YouTube. Here's a recent installment. She's just hella awesome.
New Yorkers; the Evelyn Evelyn extravaganza medicine show featuring the twins, AFP, Jason Webley, and Sxip Shirey pulls into town on June 8 and will be at the Lucille Lortel Theatre five consecutive nights. DC folks; see them on June 17 at the 9:30 Club. Philadelphians - June 18 is your date with fate at the Theatre of the Living Arts. And Boston, the tour wraps up there on June 19 at the House of Blues.