Theatre is Evil

Amanda Palmer, former member of self-invented genre “Punk Cabaret”, so called because she was “terrified that someone would use the word ‘gothic’ in the description”, has created a genre-defying oeuvre, deeply informed by her personal experience and life on the precipice of extraordinary and unlimited thinking. Her husband, acclaimed writer Neil Gaiman, once said that he felt that he was “living with a piece of incredible, all-consuming performance art called Amanda Palmer”. Her art and music and life are intertwined: nothing is created without informing the other aspects of her life. This album was made possible in part due to her fans. Amanda Palmer, when still with The Dresden Dolls, the two-person outfit made famous by the 2006 album Yes, Virginia, was signed to Roadrunner Records. While this would be considered a  success story by many, Amanda found the pressures, creative restrictions and financial inequalities of the label to  be wearisome. Her process to  birth Theatre Is Evil was so ingenious and unprecedented that The New York Times, The Economist and other notable publications took notice. Her formula was simple: she posted a link to her Kickstarter on her blog, and presented a detailed budget of the breakdown of how she would spend a million dollars to create an album. Her fans responded with a flood of support and enthusiasm, and an album has been released and a 14-month tour announced (Vancouver on September 29th).  Amanda Palmer is brilliant, unorthodox, and controversial. The album is no different, being a hodgepodge of pop, folk, rock and ukelele. In one song, “Ukelele Anthem”, she sings, “Just because your grades are bad, doesn’t mean you’re failing!” (The song itself was debuted at her Occupy Wall Street performance in 2011, she and Neil are both ardent supporters of the movement.) In the video for “Want It Back”, she lies naked on a white bed, and a tattoo artist draws the lyrics as she sings on her body, creating a wonderful picture of the emotional toil and physical vexations a relationship can take on a person. The song itself is no less magnificent, with soaring vocals and the sweet and urgent promise that “He’s already on the outskirts/I’m still pulling at his sweatshirt/He says “Fate is not a factor”/ I will let you go if you would let somebody love you like I do.” This album is fantastic. Buy it, and support not only the artist, but the idea that music should be something sold by artists, to fans, without middlemen.

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