Friday, August 9, 2013

Amanda Palmer and the Grand Theft Orchestra at Damrosch Park

Amanda Palmer (born April 30, 1976) is New York-born and Boston-based performer who began performing publicly in street theater and as a living statue called "The Eight Foot Bride" in Harvard Square, Cambridge (also in Scotland and Australia). At a Halloween party in 2000, Palmer met drummer Brian Viglione and turned to music as the lead singer, pianist and lyricist/composer of the duo The Dresden Dolls. The Dresden Dolls recorded five albums between 2002 and 2008. Palmer now performs solo, as one half of the duo Evelyn Evelyn (which recorded an EP in 2007 and a self-titled album in 2010), and as the lead singer and songwriter of Amanda Palmer and the Grand Theft Orchestra. Her most recent album is 2012’s crowd-funded Theatre Is Evil.

Amanda Palmer and the Grand Theft Orchestra’s free concert tonight at Damrosch Park might be the most outrageous show Lincoln Center has showcased in decades. Her outfit on stage consisted of a see-through bra, corset and a long skirt that was split behind up to, well, there. Well, at least everything stayed in place, unlike her controversial Glastonbury show where a “wardrobe malfunction” caused her to continue performing with a breast escaping her bra. But this was about music, right? Potty-mouthed Palmer sang a set of songs that included expletives and sexually-graphic lyrics. Unlike many contemporary rappers, however, the scenario described in her lyrics did not seem to be designed to be gratuitous or shock inducing, but were the landscape of her own sometimes-dark adventures. Playing keyboard and ukulele, she and her three-piece band performed Cars-sounding pop rock and Rocky Horror Show-styled campy cabaret. They rocked hardest with their cover of Nirvana’s “(Smells Like) Teen Spirit” and softest with an eight-minute ballad with Palmer on stage alone with her ukulele. The show concluded with members of the Hungry March Band in all its circus attire singing and dancing with her onstage. Ultimately, Palmer demonstrated that notwithstanding several colorful controversies in her musical career, she is foremost a performance artist who engagingly uses the stage and her music as her canvas. Her audience is invited to enjoy, participate and sing along to that epic avant garde canvas of work.