Amanda Palmer

AFP & GTO play NYC's Webster Hall by Leslie

Earlier this week I shared the photos of Amanda Palmer's epic crowd surfing moment and I'm back with the rest of the pictures from the NYC show at Webster Hall! You can check them all out on Flickr, but here are a few of my favorites.

The show was a perfect amalgamation of everything I've ever seen AFP do. It had some Cabaret flair and a similar entrance to the acoustic show we saw at Momenta Gallery for the Kickstarter art package. There were moments of both deafening, screaming sounds and quiet words spoken gently. The lighting was excellent and each song had it's own mood and color palette. Almost everything on stage was white. Costumes, props and sets were still slightly DIY, while feeling just a little richer and more produced. Screens onstage showed pictures that audience members had submitted or video close-ups of hands playing instruments. Amanda had four variations in her costumes and I loved how she was just basically striping off her clothes as the show went on to reveal different looks. The piece that she put on, rather than take off, was the custom made jacket by Kambriel for the Bottomfeeder crowd surf. It had an amazingly long train made out of three different colors of chiffon. Just look at how it's like a giant bubble skirt flowing behind her on the sea of people. Brilliant.

So, as you've heard me say already a hundred times: go SEE the show and GET the record. You can pay what you want for it, nothing if you are broke, or up to $20 if you want to support the effort. It's amazing, inspiring stuff. What Amanda Palmer is doing to the business of music is nothing short of revolutionary. She's changing the game, right in front of our eyes. It's upsetting to some and thrilling for others. This week she was at opposite ends of the spectrum, pissing off professional musicians and thier unions everywhere by asking for volunteers to play her shows and at the same time, crashing into the Billboard 200 music chart yesterday at NUMBER TEN. (Ukuleles rained down on the world when that happened and today Amanda and team have decided to pay all musicians on tour with them by pulling money from video budgets. I applaud her for this, it's the right thing to do.) I don't think there has ever been, in the history of music, a crowd funded, independent record in the top ten. It's really remarkable. She's a perfect example of doing it yourself, without corporate sponsorship, thinking on your feet and adapting to a changing landscape. You can stay in control of your music/art career, produce material on your own, and be successful doing it. It CAN be done. It's not easy of course, you have to build an audience authentically and organically and create something that people actually want, but it CAN be done. What's really exciting is that this model is true for pretty much any artist, be it musician, writer, painter, illustrator, inventor, etc. Creative people need to pay attention to what she is doing, what she is saying and what she believes in because it really can be the future of everything. WE ARE THE MEDIA. You and me.

Check out the rest of the photos on FLICKR!

Amanda Palmer's Epic "Bottomfeeder" Crowd Surf by Leslie

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During the New York City show at Webster Hall for Amanda Palmer and the Grand Theft Orchestra, there was a moment that simply took my breath away. During the song Bottomfeeder, Amanda gracefully entered into the most beautiful crowd surf in the history of music. She was wearing an epic chiffon train, created by her long time costume designer Kambriel, that stretched out behind her and covered dozens of people, rippling over everyone like water. It was so poetic and the act of literally being supported by her fans was not lost on anyone.

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Quote from Kambriel:

"I’d venture to say her entrance into the crowdsurf was quite possibly the most elegant ever. Floating upon waves of outstretched hands. This amazing moment lasted the entirety of the song, and sent Amanda all the way from the stage to the very back of the venue, around, and up to the stage once more… It was magic."

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I was lucky enough to be up in the balcony and to capture this amazing moment from high above. It would have been incredible to be on the floor and under the train as well, but I'm so glad, from a photography point of view, to have witnessed this from where I did. What a sight.

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Here's a video of the moment as well, taken from the floor. And another one from DC the night after.

I've got a ton more photos from the show, but this moment deserved it's own post. Seriously, if you have a chance to see her show, you don't want to miss this one. It's full of beauty, power, emotion and inspiration.

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Were you there in New York? Have you seen her in another city? What did you think?

Also, if you are interested, check out my post about the Kickstarter show at Momenta Gallery in NYC.

Amanda Palmer and The Grand Theft Orchestra TONIGHT! by Leslie

Tonight I will be seeing the amazing Amanda Palmer and her crazy Grand Theft orchestra at New York City's Webster Hall. It will be a little bit like this:

Cool, Yes? Well, the really exciting thing is that you can join me! It's a Party on the INTERNET! Check THIS out:

That's right, tune in to You Tube at 10pm EST and you can watch AFP and the GTO perform thier epic new album THEATRE IS EVIL. You will be on the internet and I will be there in person. Listen for me screaming, will you?

"Want It Back" Video: Amanda Palmer and the Grand Theft Orchestra by Leslie

The first official video released for Amanda Palmer and the Grand Theft Orchestra is for "Want It Back" and it's an incredible mix of hand written type, nakedness, stop motion animation, ephemera and worn down brick. I love, love, love it. Watch it now and be happy. Also, check out AFP's blog post about it with behind the scenes pictures and details.

Amanda Palmer and the Grand Theft Orchestra at Momenta Gallery in NYC by Leslie

Amanda Palmer and her new band The Grand Theft Orchestra have an album coming out in September called Theatre is Evil. She made music history by raising 1.2 million dollars on Kickstarter to fund the production, promotion and tour for the record. Chris and I bought the Kickstarter package that included a NYC gallery opening of the art work inspired by music from the record, as well as a special acoustic performance in the art gallery. It was an epic night.

I'm going to let the pictures mostly speak for themselves for the moment (I've got a post brewing about why I think Amanda Palmer is so relevant and important) but I will say just a few things.

  • Almost the first thing I noticed when we got to Momenta Gallery was Amanda. She was heading outside to take pictures and she swept by us in bare feet. For the rest of the evening she was completely present and available to everyone who wanted a minute with her, not hiding in the back room until it was time to go on stage. It was awesome.
  • The second thing I noticed was that the A/C in the gallery was broken. Sweat was literally rolling down my back but the oppressive heat was like another character in the performance. It made things sticky and uncomfortable and it added a rawness that might have otherwise been missing. That was kind of awesome too.
  • The third thing was that Amanda pours her heart and soul into her performances and I was left wondering how she can take in so much energy from her friends and fans and send it back out again. It's like she is an emotional conduit for everyone and that connection is one of the things that endears her to fans and makes her so special. Again, awesome.
  • The last thing was that her bandmates; Jherek Bischoff, Michael McQuilken and Chad Raines are incredibly talent musicians who are bright enough lights to stand next to Amanda and not get lost. It was amazing to witness their synchronicity with each other and I'm pretty sure they could make music with practically anything. Awesome, Awesome and Awesome.

Well done Grand Theft Orchestra and a huge Thank-you to Amanda for an amazing night I won't EVER forget. (Scroll down to the bottom of the post for a link to the entire set of pictures.)

Were you there at Momenta with us? Did you see this performance in another city? What were your thoughts or favorite moments? Personally, I loved the performance of Trout Heart Replica, with the beet cutting and also the performance and artwork for The Bed Song. The ritual of laying out the bed sheets was amazing and Kyle Cassidy's B&W photographs of people laying in bed were so touching, intimate and of course sad.

Finally, if you want to see it all, including MORE NAKEDNESS, check out the complete set of photos on Flickr.

Saying Good-bye to the "Dear Old House That I Grew Up In" by Leslie

My parent's moved out of the house that I spent most of my childhood in and my sister and I went back for one last visit before they sold it. I photographed the details that I didn't want to forget, the empty rooms and the doorknobs that I've spent 30 years looking at. I pulled up the carpet in my old room and added one last note, "You were a character in my life." It was a spot I had written on before, when I was younger. I wonder who will find it. There were quite a few places that had evidence of our family. The basement wall that we drew on before it was covered in panelling, the footprints in the cement, the wear and tear of a well lived life and a few hidden time capsules that we will never see again. We impressed ourselves on that house as much as it impressed on us. I'll miss it, but I hope the new owners will love it as much as I did. (Scroll down for a video and song lyrics for Dear Old House That I Grew Up In by Amanda Palmer.)

Have your parents also moved out of the home that you grew up in? How did you feel when they left? Do you go back to visit?

And now, a new and timely song from Amanda Palmer about how SHE felt when her parents sold the house she grew up in. Skip ahead to 2:30 if you want to get right to the song and skip the explanation.

Lyrics to Dear Old House That I Grew Up In by Amanda Palmer

dear old house that i grew up in
i know they're gonna leave you any day
dear old house that i grew up in
can't you find a way to make them stay

and while the girls i went to school with
went downtown with all the cool kids
i was staked out in your cellar
making friends with dead umbrellas

and the creeks of every floorboard
tell the story of the girl i stuck inside
and if they move away
i'll have no place to hide

dear old house that i grew up in
i have never really been in love
you took my heart when i was a child
and your noises wrapped around my little body
like a winterglove

you're just a random set of objects
in a town that's full of sadness
in the armpit of the world
your cut downtrees and lousy soil

and if i wanted to i'd keep you
and i'd fill you up and heat you
with the market how it is, amanda
well you know the price of oil

goodnight stairs and goodnight stars
on painted bedroom walls
attic door and banister
i'll miss you most of all

i was s'posed to keep you safe
this wasn't supposed to end
does it sound ridiculous
to call you my best friend

dear old house that i grew up in
i know i haven't visited that much
but every lifeless hotel and appartment i walk into
just reminds me of the doorknobs that i want to touch

and i won't miss you when they sell you
to some evil yuppie couple
with a child who'll put miley cyrus
posters in my bedroom

i am a native of the globe
i am a rockstar on the road
i am now centrally located
anywhere that i am known

but it doesn't feel like anywhere
when you can't go back home

dear old house i grew up in
i know it's not your fault that this went down
please don't take it personally
love, amanda

ps tell the evil yuppie couple
when i'm rich, i'll buy them out

Neil Gaiman, Amanda Palmer and Cut Paper Inspiration by Leslie

Neil Gaiman tipped me off to both of the fabulous cut paper videos in this post. He is, if you haven't already heard, my favorite author. He seems to be fan of cut paper because the recent collaboration between him and Amanda Palmer (his new wife, who I also adore) uses the fantastic cut paper graphic above. Yes, that is a Tardis on the table. I wished I could have attended one the concerts, but they were all on the west coast, so instead I contributed to the Kickstarter for a signed CD which I am anxiously waiting for! They did send out a digital teaser EP (read a review of the concert and the EP) and it's a wonderful hint of what will likely be an epic collection of music performed by AFP, stories read by NG and awesome Q & A's with them together. I love the stuff these two are doing together.

Back to the cut paper though, Neil Gaiman tweeted about both of these videos and I think they are amazing. The amount of work that must have gone into them is astounding. Stop motion has an incredible quality to it. 

Still image from Josh Ritter's video for Love Is Making Its Way Back Home.

The first video is for Josh Ritter's new song Love Is Making Its Way Back Home. "This video was created with over 12,000 pieces of construction paper, shown as it was shot, with no effects added in post." 

The second video is from The New Zealand Book Council and it was posted a couple of years ago so you may have seen it, but it's worth a re-watch even if you have. So beautiful. From The Inspiration Room: "New Zealand Book Council runs readings, recitals, school programmes, seminars and festivals throughout the country, bringing the magic of NZ literature to life for New Zealanders. The organisation has worked with Colenso BBDO and Andersen M Studio to produce a 2 minute promotion bringing to life Maurice Gee’s 1993 novel, “Going West”."

For some more cut paper inspiration check out this book that I first read about on Terra Savvy. It's got all kinds of excellent cut paper art featured in it, although I was somewhat disappointed that the cover is not actually cut paper. I suppose I should have expected that, for a mass produced book, but still. It's ABOUT cutting paper, it's not cut paper itself.

Paper Cutting Book: Contemporary Artists, Timeless Craft (image from Paper Crave)

My favorites in the book, which features 26 contemporary artists, are Peter Callesen, Su Blackwell and Mia Pearlman. I also love what Thomas Allen is doing with the vintage pulp paperbacks. His use of photography is as critical to the mood of his paper cuts as the cut paper. The fabulous cover of the book is by Elsa Mora.

Peter Callesen

Su BlackwellMia PearlmanThomas Allen

One of the most interesting, beautiful and intricate paper/book cutting projects I have ever seen is the work of Alexander Korzer-Robinson. He cuts encyclopedias and reveals the images inside. The overlaps and compositions are created entirely by where things are on the page. He cuts everything away to reveal what he wants to. It's simply amazing the juxtapositions and combinations that are created. 

Day Of The Dead from the Meyers Series by Alexander Korzer-Robinson.

From the artist's website: "By using pre-existing media as a starting point, certain boundaries are set by the material, which I aim to transform through my process. Thus, an encyclopedia can become a window into an alternate world, much like lived reality becomes its alternate in remembered experience. These books, having been stripped of their utilitarian value by the passage of time, regain new purpose. They are no longer tools to learn about the world, but rather a means to gain insight about oneself."

For more inspiration, check out these links:

The Heart of Papercuts

Wikipedia: Paper Cutting

Paper Cutting Traditions

Cut paper silhouettes of pop cultural figures. A solo show from Olly Moss.

Scherenschnitte: Cindy Ferguson

Paper cutting images on Google.

Our Overnight in Boston to See Amanda Palmer in Cabaret by Leslie

I've never been away from the kids overnight. That's four and a half years of snuggling with my little guys almost all night, every night. Milo slept over at his Gram's house for two nights a few months ago, but I still had Quinn. At four, Milo is completely okay with being away from us at night, but Quinn is two and still needs me in the middle of the night. No one, not even Daddy, will do. Despite this, when Chris and I heard that Amanda Palmer was going to be in a production of Cabaret in Boston in September, we thought it would be the perfect way to celebrate my 35th birthday and our first overnight trip away from the kids.

Cabaret

My Mom, wanting to come for a visit for my birthday, offered to come from Canada to watch them here at our house. She arrived on Wednesday and Friday morning Chris and I set off for a fabulous night of all things that do not go with kids. The setting off part was a bit harder than I thought it would be. Not for them but for me. It wasn't that I was worried about them, or thinking that something would go wrong. It was kind of like I was leaving an arm behind. It was just weird. Also, packing for one person instead of three? What a novelty.

So off we go to Boston. I brought two books on tape, two books of questions and the newspaper because I wondered what on earth would Chris and I talk about for four hours in the car, much less 36 hours alone? Well, we didn't need any props. When we weren't chatting about something or other, we would just sit and enjoy the silence, or the music, or just stare out the window without having to do anything. It was lovely.

We got to The Charles Hotel, valet parked, checked in and went up to the room to settle in. Again, it was strange to be without the kids, but it was starting to come back to me, how to be alone with Chris, how to enjoy new places without having to identify exits and bathrooms. How to stay in a hotel. How to relax. Chris had ordered an insanely expensive "Get in the Mood" package, which consisted of a little plate of chocolate covered strawberries and a bottle of champagne. Rather than "get me in the mood" it just made me sleepy, so instead of the obvious activity when you are alone in a hotel room with your mate, I read a book to Chris and he had a cat nap. It was a tiny bit romantic but I was pretty far from "in the mood". Like most guys, Chris is always in the mood, but for me, since having kids, getting in the mood is something that I have to work at. 

Strawberries & Champagne

Before we knew it, it was time to get ready for our dinner reservations at 7:30. It's so fun (funny?) to dress up after spending all my time in jeans and t-shirts. I thought it would be good to dress the part for Cabaret, so I had ordered a flapper inspired dress, a modern fascinator hat and herringbone booties from the online vintage retailer ModCloth. I also packed my old fishnets, that I had worn shamelessly when dating Chris almost 10 years ago. They still fit.

Cabaret Outfit

 I don't know what I was thinking ordering four and a half inch heels to walk around Boston in, besides that they looked good with the dress. Whether or not I could walk in them hadn't occurred to me. But it should have, I wear flats almost all the time now and my legs are not used to walking around in heels.

Unfortunately all we got was this shadowy iPhone photo of us all dressed up, but let me tell you, we looked fantastic! And we felt fantastic. At least until I started walking. 

Leslie & Chris Cabaret

We arrived at the restaurant, OM (turn your volume down before visiting the site), exactly on time and were impressed by the decor. We were shown to a half circle booth and sat down a little awkwardly. Did I already say that it was weird to be without the kids? I felt like we were on our first date or something. We ordered fancy drinks, I got the Sassy Miss, and we were given a delicious popcorn appetizer. Soon we were at ease again, chatting away. I felt a little silly in my hat, like the dog in "Go Dog Go" who keeps saying "Do you like my hat?!" Chris said it looked good on me though, so I tried to own it and feel bold. 

Go Dog Go

Our appetiser arrived, Sweet Bread and Scallion Pancakes. At least that's how I read it. I think that it was "sweetbread" though, all one word, and it turns out it is the best misnomer in cuisine. Do you know what sweetbread is? I didn't. I thought it was a pastry or something. I've just swallowed my first bite and Chris says, "Oh no..." You never want to hear THAT in a restaurant. Chris doesn't want to tell me what he thinks it is, but I beg him. Finally, he tells me that he thinks it's cow brains. I said, "COW BRAINS? Are you serious? They can't serve that, isn't that how people die?" We called the waiter over and asked what we were eating. He said he wasn't sure and that he would ask the cook. Even the waiter didn't know what it was! While he was gone, we looked it up on my iPhone. Wikipedia says sweetbread is throat or heart or stomach. It's not brains, but I'm not really too keen on eating a stomach either. After what seemed like forever, the waiter returned and said that it was veal. We didn't bother to find out what part. He took it away and we ordered the vegetarian spring rolls. There is nothing strange or disgusting about deep fried vegetables.

The rest of the meal is edible although a bit pretentious. My Tuna Tartier comes with long green beans in a tempura batter. I should have known that tartier was close enough to tartar that it meant that the tuna would be raw but it wasn't obvious to me. Once again, I was excepting something else. I've had sushi, so it's fine, but it's just not what I thought it would be. Also, the long green beans? It's just ONE long green bean and it's tied in a knot. Chris and I are really more steak people and we should have gone with something a bit less artistic. But at least we had a good laugh at dinner.

So now it's 9:30 pm and we are headed to the theater for the 10:30 pm Cabaret. Normally at this time, at home, the kids have just gone to bed and Chris and I will watch TV or work on our computers. But here we are, a little tipsy, me walking on four inch heels with a bird's nest on my head, holding onto my husband's arm so I don't fall, through a part of Boston just littered with young, sexy, child-free people. It's fun to pretend that I am more like them for the night, than like the person that I am when I'm at home.

OberonEntrance Oberon Entrance. Photo by Amanda Palmer.

The American Repertory Theater's production of Cabaret is at the Oberon. It's a cool nightclub setting and we are excited to see Amanda Palmer live for the first time. We've been casual fans of The Dresden Dolls for a while, but I really started paying attention to her when she became engaged to my favorite author Neil Gaiman. She quickly became an inspiration to me and she's constantly doing amazing things with all kinds of interesting people. I sent her a twitter earlier in the day telling her that we were coming and she retweeted me (to her half a million followers) and added "see you soon. holla!!" I'll admit, it's exciting when celebrities tweet you, much less retweet you. I had also seen on Twitter that she was looking forward to the first late night show and wanted the crowd to be loud and enthusiastic.

If you've seen Cabaret, you'll know that it's all about engaging the audience and making them feel like they are a part of the show. At the beginning, it's like you are really at the Kit Kat Klub, so we got right into it, cheering and yelling and whooping. The girl at the merchandise table said it was the first performance of the run that was filled with a younger crowd who dressed the part and were Amanda Palmer fans. Previous shows had been attended mostly by A.R.T. members.

At the KlubAt the Klub. Photo by Marcus Stern.

It was incredible. It was dark and edgy. It was devastating. The emotional journey that you go through is raw and disorienting. The highlight for me was during the New Year's Eve scene when Amanda as the Emcee is going through the crowd toasting everyone. I halfway get up to reach out and toast her and she looks at me and says, "You...I have to kiss." I just about died. She didn't kiss everyone, just me and the girl next to me. I was so thrilled. It was amazing. And you should have seen the look on Chris's face.

Amanda PalmerAmanda Palmer (the Emcee). Photo by Marcus Stern.

The scenes take place all over the club, around us, next to us, above us. Because of the small space it's incredibly well integrated and heightens the feeling that we, as the audience, are a critical part of the show. The actors that make up the Cabaret troupe are riveting, with beautiful bodies and movements, but garish and frightening makeup. They are like ghosts. I couldn't take my eyes off of Lucille Duncan as Rosie. The rest of the cast is flawless, the singing is amazing, the roles are well cast. I'm not really a fan of musicals, but this one works for me. Aly Trasher as Sally Bowles is awesome, her journey through the play is so tragic and sad. And Thomas Derrah as Fraulein Schneider couldn't be more perfect. I love that they cast a man in this role and it really works.

Amanda Palmer"Don't Tell Mama" - Eric Johnson (Frenchie), Renee-Marie Brewster (Fritzie), Tamara Hickey (Texas), Aly Trasher (Sally), Jordy Lievers (Helga), Lucille Duncan (Rosie). Photo by Marcus Stern.

Amanda Palmer Tamara Hickey (Texas), Thomas Derrah (Fraulein Schneider), Matt Wood (Cliff Bradshaw). Photo by Marcus Stern.

As thrilling and sexy and daring as the beginning of the show is, the end of the show is heart breaking and chilling when the Holocaust references become more apparent. There are vulgar and shocking scenes that just leave the audience silent and breathless. It's the worst kind of downer, it's depressing. I went from loving Amanda, to hating her. Which of course means that she did a fabulous job. 

Kit Kat Klub dancersThe Kit Kat Klub Dancers. Photo by Marcus Stern.

Chris and I walked back to the hotel at 1:30 am in a daze. The show was amazing but it forces you to talk about Nazi Germany and all the terrible things that happened. To ask ourselves again, how *could* it have happened. But we loved the performance, it was arresting and perfectly executed. We talked about it until we were so tired that all we could do was sleep.

Luckily, after a good nights sleep and a little distance from the heaviness of the night before, we woke up late and were finally "in the mood". We checked out at noon and headed out to find lunch. Cafe Pamplona had amazing coffee and delicious panini sandwiches. We read the paper and enjoyed the beautiful fall weather while listening to three young friends speaking Italian to each other. I wish we could have spent all afternoon walking around Harvard Square, but after talking to my Mom and hearing that things went well, but that half the night had been spent sleeping on the couch with the kids because Quinn would cry if she went anywhere near the bedrooms, we decided to head home around 2:00 pm so that we could be home by dinner.

Cafe Pamplona Cafe Pamplona, Boston, MA.

Grandma and the BoysGrandma with Milo and Quinn.

We had a great time and it was well worth it, but Quinn is still a bit too young to be leaving him all night long. Chris and I look forward to more nights like this though! It's so important to take a step back sometimes and rekindle the love. To remember who we were before we had kids. My favorite thing about the whole trip was that because Chris wasn't taking care of the kids, he was taking care of me again. That felt good.