Back when Myspace was a thing, I opened a new “friend’s” Myspace page and was greeted by a song that automatically played
when the page was viewed. The song in question was “Coin Operated Boy” by The Dresden Dolls. I was 13 years old at the
time, and my first time being exposed to the so-called “dark cabaret” genre. Yes, I’ll say it; I fell in love!
For those who haven’t been acquainted, The Dresden Dolls are Amanda Palmer and Brian Vigilone. The duo are on a hiatus
from performing together for now, and have been working on their own projects. I have been following more of Amanda’s
work throughout the years, and I finally had the chance to see her live just a few months back in Toronto. This experience
was one of the best I’ve had thus far.
Amanda Palmer and the Grand Theft Orchestra were touring to promote their album, “Theatre is Evil”. Amanda is known to
incorporate the audience into the performances, and this tour would be no exception. There was a call to submit photos
before each of the tour dates (a photo of someone you miss, a photo of a heart drawn on a body part, a photo of the street you
live on, etc.). Attendees also monitored Twitter for any further instructions; in this case, we were asked to bring black paint
On the day of the show, Ryan and I arrived in Toronto a bit early to do some shopping and have a sushi dinner. We ended up
being one of the first in line when we ran out of things to do. Once in, I expected to wait long lengths of time, which was just an
estimate based on every other concert I’ve attended. I was ready to wait patiently for Amanda to come on stage (after the
opening band), so I was pretty surprised when the first thing I saw was Amanda come out to center stage in her robe. I’ll also
add that leading up to the concert date, Amanda had posted about the loss of one of her good friends, and the illness of
another. I won’t lie and say that I wasn’t concerned about the show being cancelled, but as a long-time fan, I was also
concerned about Amanda and how all of this was affecting her. I admire her very much for being so strong and continuing for
as long as she did before she had to post-pone the rest of the dates. So, seeing her onstage, on time, with a smile on her face…I
just felt an immense amount of respect for the woman. From there started one of the best performances I had ever seen.
Something that I hadn’t realized before the show started, was that the opening performance was by Jherek Bischoff (who also
functioned as The Grand Theft Orchestra’s bassist). This performance exceeded my expectations. Jherek and his band were
so engaging, I felt a familiarity with their music that I usually only felt with artists that I have followed for a long while.
Another thing I really admired was while not performing, Amanda sat alongside the stage huddled up with her other
bandmates watching the performance. You could see the connection they shared, and it was beautiful.
Once Amanda took to the stage to perform, it was all I expected and more. She has so much energy and passion, you can’t help
but lose yourself in it as well. One of my favourite instances was a point during “Bottomfeeder”, when I knew th
at she was about to dive into the crowd. It wasn’t so much as a dive, but a
graceful decent (please allow me to be a LITTLE cheesy, since this was
actually a spiritual experience for me from my perspective). It was
absolutely gorgeous, with her trailing dress covering the audience as she
moved through the crowd. At one point, the responsibility fell on me to
support most of her weight, and as a 5’2″ female, this was difficult but
One of the surprises Amanda had in store was that we, the audience, would be a part of Neil Gaiman’s birthday “card”. She
then asked those who brought the supplies she had asked for to meet back stage. Once they were prepared, it was revealed
that we would all be singing happy birthday. The selected group lined up on stage with huge smiles on their faces. As Amanda
directed us all in singing a big “happy birthday”, the group on stage began to strip off their clothing, revealing letters drawn on
their chests to spell out “Happy Birthday”….well almost. Apparently a couple of them had to stay behind to help someone who
had fainted; talk about bad timing. Either way, it was immense amounts of fun, and Neil reportedly enjoyed it very much. I
also have reason to believe that the video I posted of it may have been seen first by the two.
The show later ended with Amanda and the band appearing behind us on the balcony, and lead us in singing an acapella
version of “Want it back”. It seemed like the whole crowd got along, each accommodating for each other. I didn’t even mind
that the couple in front of me kept leaving and returning for bar runs— honest! It was the perfect live music experience, and i
am proud to be a fan of these artists. As a fan, you feel very involved with her music. To me, Amanda Palmer is the perfect
artist with all her imperfections.
As a side note, my fiance had purchased an Amanda Palmer gift pack a couple years back, but it was missing the signed card
that was promised. He had apparently recently contacted them about it without letting me know, and I was sent an apology,
the missing card, as well as some extra goodies! It was very much appreciated.