Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Amanda Palmer & The Grand Theft Orchestra- Melbourne Night 3

hey. thank you all for your comments and nice words and your appreciation. it means a lot. it really does.

i think i'm finally rested up. i swear. i get older. the jet leg gets worse. once upon a time i could fly around the world without sleeping, land at 8 in the morning and hit the ground running. i would fly to land on show days and just rock it out...not so much anymore. the body is totally starting to feel it.

but i had a good weekend. finally got to relax a little bit. and have a little fun.

friday night we all hit the suburbs to see Agent Cleave perform in Summertime in the Garden of Eden.  words cannot describe. i couldn't do it justice. but it was great. truly magical theatre. in some kids garage. with chickens in the backyard. and unmentionables hanging from a clothesline. i don't think its running anymore- but if they do it again and you get the chance. GO. you can read about it here.

saturday was work-y, relax-y, catch-up-y. and maybe i might have done a little bar hopping amongst melbourne's finest...who's to say.

sunday we hit the Spiegeltent to see Mikelangelo, the Most Dapper Man Down Under, the Balkan Bull, and his ever handsome Black Sea Gentlemen do the awesome amazing thing that they do. it is always heart-warming to return to the Spiegeltent- it's like home away from home away from home. we've done so many shows in all the various tents around the world... and so excellent to catch up with old friends from last year. those Black Sea Gentlemen. they are a talented fucking bunch. and i dig on the john wayne western shteez...it's such a good complement to the eastern euro gypsy style.

and then BOOM. show day again.

i could do residency shows like this until the day i die. it's so relaxing to walk into the same venue over and over again.

on a normal tour. you hit a different venue, a different city, every day. i walk into the gig and i find the promoter rep and i have the same conversation each time:

-where is merchland
-do we need wristbands
-what is the WIFI password
-please turn the AC off
-here's our show schedule
-where's the dinner buy-out?
-etc. etc. etc.

every day the same story, but a different venue.

but when we do multiple gigs in the same room...that conversation happens once. not much changes from day to day. show to show. other than our circus. but that's internal. not venue related. we get to the gig each day and we know the score.

also- we get to know all the people that work the room. we spend more time with them. we have more opportunities to interact. to get to know each other. a typical club probably sees 300 different bands a year give or take depending. folks can get pretty jaded. or stop paying attention. "just another band in my bar". its a job. their work place. doesn't matter who the band is. every day the same story. but a different band.

not so when you play multiple nights.

we've probably met 70% of the NSC's staff by now. everyone there has been super helpful and awesome to work with. on every level. the managers, the bartenders, the kitchen staff, the security guys. our sound engineer, Andy. its a really great working environment.

i always hope for and strive towards an environment where the venue staff has just as good a time as the band. i don't ever want to make a venue unhappy or leave a sour taste in anyone's mouth- the chances are so high that we will return to that club some day. or that the guy who owns and runs a small club, will then switch careers and start booking for a major agency- you never really know where folks are gonna go in this biz- who you'll meet further down the line. its really important to create and maintain really excellent relationships with promoters and venue owners and venue staff. heck- i've hired venue tech boys and girls for touring positions based off of one gig in their room...

and everyone at the NSC has been nothing but kickass. 3 down. 2 to go. and everyone is still in good spirits. success!

tonight was really solid. the band sounded great (again), and the horns killed it. amanda was in top form- running around stage and chatting a bit and just killing it. there was that energy tonight. from the crowd. and the band felt it. and gave back. a great set.

as always, DJ Dameza on the one-twos hit us with the beats. Brendan Maclean, our dear friend form sydney, kicked off the show with a Leonard Cohen cover- my brain is so mush i can't remember which one- but i think it was Chelsea Hotel. somebody correct me if i've totally misremembered this. and then of course, Mikelangelo, scourge of the pomade seas, serenaded us all with the macabre and lovelorn over the dulcet strum of his acoustic gee-tar. and then. and then. Jess Daly and Agent Cleave- what was that! some sorta bondage geisha calligraphy-class striptease...fuck. they looked crazy amazing. we took a few pics- will try and get one up here when i can get them off amanda's phone....

and Amanda and the Grand Theft Orchestra? they live up to their word. every show continues to be different. same gig, different set list. Missed Me is back in the set. with some shenanigans. yet another new song was debuted tonight, another song with the horns. and a new cover song got a run-through for the first time as a four-piece band...i know. maybe it's frustrating. all the secrets and the holding back. but amanda's right. she said it from stage. it matters that the info that reaches the net is the kinda info or video or audio that does all the new tracks justice. it would be a real shame to see the new tracks and titles leak- before they were fully formed.

but you all seem to be in on the game. and we're glad to have you along for the ride. stick with us. all will be revealed!

wanna do this again tomorrow? different day- same time same place?


Friday, March 2, 2012

Amanda Palmer & The Grand Theft Orchestra- Melbourne Night 2

those who know me- know my driving record is really spotty.

i grew up in the country. rural country. remote country.

the kinda country where kids drive snowmobiles and ATVs to school. if it gets too cold they cancel school because all the buses freeze up and there is no way for the kids out in the sticks to get into town. the kinda country where everyone starts driving at 15 and has licenses by 16.

but i didn't get my license at 16. a series of fortunate events kinda screwed up my schedule. it didn't matter- i always had older friends or girlfriends to drive me around. and also, i failed the driving test twice- when i did take it.

but that second time- i was robbed. it was during the worst snow storm of the year and visibility was less than 2 feet. the examiner didn't like that i came to a full stop, instead of yielding per the sign, at the town's most blind and dangerous intersection.


but its okay. i'm over it. i got my license in my mid-20s shortly before getting into the biz- as i figured i'd need it to cart bands around.

good thing too. two weeks after getting my license i was driving a 15-person passenger-van all over brooklyn and manhattan. i was terrified.

now i'm into it. but it's still a lot of pressure: don't crash and injure the band. don't crash and damage the gear. don't get lost and be late. don't park somewhere the van/gear is gonna get towed. don't park and block the tiny alley behind the club that the giant food delivery trucks still need to get down. don't drive in london....don't slow down in arkansas...etc. etc.

i spent the last three days driving all over melbourne.

without a map.

so maybe i'm a wee bit proud.

or maybe melbourne is totally on the grid and all the places i had to get to were in straight lines...whose to say...

there's an old school modest mouse song here somewhere. or maybe a new one too- not really sure,  i started paying less attention to the newer albums. but man. back in the day, when they were still an indie band, and they played foot-stomping chain-smoking loud and dirty epics about disenchantment and loneliness and emptiness and all the great big nothing that makes this thing, this America- i was all over that.

i was also in university. i was feeling a lot of stuff. sadness was attractive.

i liked modest mouse so much. because they had so very few love songs. or if there was a song about love- it was a love for the smell of lightning-struck leather, or the place that time forgot, or the feeling you got from watching the moon-landing on tv...

i still love art about suffering. but i don't need to feel that way anymore. i'd rather sit behind the wheel, and roll down the window and crank the radio and drive all over town-

without a map.

Korzybski said: the map is not the territory.

what we do. this being here. it's so much more and less than that we frequently admit. much further from straight lines on the grid than we let ourselves believe...

drive safe....

but never yield....

i think i made a few illegal turns in the CBD. i may have driven down a pedestrian mall, or some Tram Only sections...

...good thing it was late...

...just joking...


...don't tell the band!

so night two? sadly Lisa Mitchell had to cancel. but amanda and the band shook things up with a solo uke song and an in-crowd dance party to start off the set. they played with the set order a bit, and amanda played some different songs during her solo interlude. never the same show twice!

which really says something. so many bands get up and play the same music every night. no interaction. no spontaneity. i've worked with bands that only had one albums' worth of material before- those were some short sets...a certain kinda bummer. though i suppose it's slightly understandable. its an interesting business this music business. frequently it comes down to timing. strike when the iron is hot. throw the band on the road if the people are demanding it- even if the band only has 9 songs.

this is not the tao of amanda. this is the family circus. the biggest little show in town.

it's true. amanda's voice was feeling the burn from the previous weeks' worth of rehearsing and performing. it's another delicate tight-rope walk. but she knows her limits. and she takes good care. never fear. the show was another killer. and the energy from the crowd was great. that energy. its a key factor. its a push and pull. artists feed off it. the energy of the crowd effects the energy of the show. and on wednesday we saw melbourne dance.

don't yield on the dancefloor. dance hard. dance like modest mouse was playing this is a long drive for someone with nothing to think about really. really. loud.

keep the comments coming! here and on amanda's blog. everyone's insight has been awesome!

see you soon.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Amanda Palmer & The Grand Theft Orchestra- Melbourne Night 1

it's been a while, huh? and i admit- it's off to a rough start. no setlist or photo but...what can i say, melbourne, you inspire me. the timing felt right. so here i am. 1:14 AM, sitting on the couch in JAA HQ, cracking the first post-show beer, listening to Chad VanGaalen on repeat....and figuring i'd pick this up again.

forgive me. i only landed yesterday and today started early. i'm still kinda zombie-fide from the flight, and i floated through most of the day on foggy shots of out-of-body adrenaline. auto-pilot. disjointed.

y'all familiar with Chad VanGaalen? maybe i'm spelling it wrong. i admit- i've only lately been turned on to him. just getting into him now. but i want "Clinically Dead" on the Infiniheart album to be the track that plays in the movies in my walking-down-the-street-in-a-crowded-city montages. the ones where its kinda in slo-mo and all the other people are out of focus...check it out! great track.

Melbourne- it's like almost coming home in a way. or stepping into familiar clothes that have just come out of the dryer. warm and ready.

and its not the weather or the architecture or the food or the trams....its the community. its knowing i have a world of folks over here to see and greet and love and hang and drink and talk and catch up with. folks i've known ages and folks i only met last year this time. it was so good to see you all tonight. special. rare.

life on the road will do it. you'll miss weddings and birthdays and deaths and births. you'll go months, years, without seeing your family. you'll spend more time per year in your bus bunk jerkin off than at home sleeping with your lover. catch up with your college buddies in town twice a year. its a special sorta sacrifice. or summat.

but on the flipside.

you put down a different set of roots.

the network of places and faces and coffee shops and street signs that result from repeated visits. no matter how brief.

a familiarity. a coziness. can i say"hyggeligt" here, or is that too abstract?

I'm a sucker for foreign words that have no adequate english translation:

hygge in danish.

saudade in portuguese.

in hindi- the maan is the place in the body between the heart and the mind.

we're so lucky we have so many of you incredible kids here in Melbourne to welcome us and take care of us and, well- just all of it. thank you everyone. it's gonna be a great few weeks.

so the show? Northcote Social Club Night 1 of 5? well? you guys tell me! Amanda really wanted to create this space. these gigs. a yard to air out all the new material before hitting the studio to record her next album. a chance for all you all to hear it first before it went down to the wax. tell us what you think of the new tunes! we're all super duper curious to hear what everyone has to say about it all.

wanna know what i think? i think its all gonna be badass.

tonight was the first time A and J and C and M have appeared together on stage. ever. and it rocks. and its an incredible band. there may have been a celebratory whiskey shot in the green room before hitting stage. those boys- they're kickass musicians and they know how to stomp the boards. JD provided the excellent costumes for them. our little room backstage was a stumbling kaleidoscope of jewelry and jackets and computers and beer bottles and everything sparkly. and the horn players. they arrived at 6:PM and rehearsed for 10 minutes and they NAILED it. sure the day itself had its bumps and hiccups and triumphs and tomfoolery like any show day- but then the lights go down and the band steps on stage and all the everything fades away as it all comes together and...happens. this thing. this creation. some roving genesis actualized. a loud and heavy force of nature.


i wish i had more juicy stuff for y'all. more behind the scenes details and crazy awesome stuff that went down. but honestly? i'm beat and starting to run off a bit. no longer able to recall the madness or the magic. just that it happened. and i'm so grateful to be here for it. and to be here. and to be here with all of you....let's do this again? let's say 4 more nights?

and seriously. leave comments. tell us what you thought. be honest! the good, the bad, what worked, what didn't. love/hate. anything. and also- there's still some tickets left for next week's shows on the 6th and7th. tell your friends to come. come again. tell somebody whose never even heard of Amanda before. hum a few bars to your dog and see what he or she says! dying to know.

today on the tram i saw a girl with a parrot on her shoulder eating some sorta tree branch.

god bless you, melbourne.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Amanda Fucking Palmer Down Under- the tattoo....

yes. i did it. and as it was the topic of such heated debate...i thought i'd share some stuff.

somewhat frequently... over the course of tour, amanda and i would discuss the human desire for familiarity. and the need for symbols of that familiarity. the need for a relate-able visual stimuli. even if it's just the sign for one's favorite cafe on some corner in some city of the world. symbols are comforting.

and it's not that we are godless generation. though the popularity of mainstream religion amongst the young might be in slight decline- we still cling to the symbols, the rites, the familiarity of a new spirituality. the marriage might be an act of socio-religio-political commitment. but it's the wedding party (and maybe the rings) that seals the deal. for the community. the actual rite. the symbol of that union.

my tattoos....per john irving...i'm a collector. each of the tattoos i've acquired over the years- they represent a time and a place and an event or passion that registered deeply at the time. the road map of my adventures. the celebration of the life i'm living.

yes. jack terricloth said it best, "you'd do better living more...and commemorating less...those tattoos are gonna fade." and he's absolutely right. but even better, he said "because i can. 'cause no one can stop me. 'cause it makes up for things i lost. 'cause i'm addicted to bad ideas. and all the beauty in this world."

a glass raised to you jack....but...

upon my first trip to australia and new zealand, on tour in 2008, i knew i'd stumbled on something special. a place i'd return to often.

and having been raised on boats and possessing a healthy nautical fetish...the southern cross became the perfect symbol. an astral asymmetric storytelling device for australia's aboriginal peoples, and then later appropriated for oceanic navigation by traders and explorers and wayward pirates.


here's where it get's trickier. especially in regards to how we adopt and adapt our symbols for personal use.

in the wrong hands...symbols become dangerous. prior to hitler and the third reich...the swastika was and still is a powerful representation of luck and auspiciousness to all manner of indus valley peoples and religions. central to hinduism and buddhism and jainism. you see it all over india everywhere. and it's beautiful...

i'm fuzzy on this one...but at one point...the "peace sign" made by the two uplifted fingers of the right hand was originally a gesture used by american troops in wwii (or wwi?) to mean "victory". the counterculture of the american fifties and sixties re-appropriated it to mean "peace". not so bad this time. but what about when the circular peace sign of the sixties was then re-interpreted as a fashion staple of the 1980's? and it was everywhere. suddenly void of it's intended meaning. re-imagined as a symbol for wealth and excess for a culture redefining itself with outward decadence.

and on a similar note. one could easily make the argument that malcolm mclaren et al. over-stepped the line when adopting the mohawk as the iconic punk haircut de rigueur. i think in college i told my mother that i was re-appropriating the mohawk to take a stand. to re-affirm my stance and brotherhood with the mohican nations of old...in a "lest we forget" kinda manner. i thought coming from rural maine with a strong native american population...this sounded good. but she felt otherwise. and rightfully so...that said...i still sport the mohawk now and then...we have to make the the definitions on our own...

...but those definitions and decisions must be well-informed as well.

so the southern cross...i wanted to get it tattooed on that very first journey to oz/nz in 2008....

turns out the symbol itself is more controversial than i ever imagined. for the last two months i approached aussies everywhere, of all different walks and creeds and skin tones, with my questions. and the answers were varied. some were pro. some were con. others indifferent. but most opinionated.

yes, the southern cross appears distinctly on australia's flag. there's also a strong political movement to redesign australia's flag. the aborigines themselves have their own flag, sans cross.

but in recent years the flag itself and the southern cross in particular have taken on nationalist and racist connotations. similar to kids in alabama getting dixie tattooed on their shoulders...please read this article about the cronulla riots of 2005.

surfers and bogans told me the idea was great. the concerned literatti at shows and on twitter begged me not to, and pointed me towards this little ditty by waiting for guinness:

but in the end...my heart was set and the decision was made. m at iv in sydney was concerned, but agreed to do it. and it's beautiful. and it's everything i wanted. and honestly... 70% of aussies interviewed in the last 7 days don't even recognize it.

i'm not a racist or nationalist. just a short kid in love with your hemisphere. taking pride elsewhere...:

the axes are straight...and bonds makes me an official citizen, right? photo by jim batt, 03.07.11

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Amanda Fucking Palmer Down Under- The Melbourne Forum Edda

us. melbourne. 2.26.11 photo by marianne @ mankissingbird.com
wow. just. wow.

the melbourne forum gig was epic. totally epic. easily one of the best shows i've done in my career. or that's how it seems from where i'm standing. i can't believe we pulled off so much. though maybe i can. 'cause we did.

in my brain i had imagined writing this blog a ways back for the opera house. that one didn't exactly go as planned. now maybe the time is right....:

for those interested... you wanna know what goes into a production like this? here is the short answer to almost everything that went into setting this one off like a frog in a sock- in MY world. (tnx afp for the language!). it might start real dry, but hang in there- it should get better...i hope this comes off as informative and not arrogant....

routing- (september/october/november 2010)
this entire tour was the germ of an idea that tumbled around amanda's brain until it polished itself to the gleaming pearl it is today. once the dream was born- it's up to the agents to make it happen. fall 2010 was spent routing the oz/nz tour, including the melbourne gig on feb 26th.

its a process- it involves massive communication to rooms and promoters all over the world to see what venues are available when in which cities. you can't just say you wanna play melbourne on the 26th at the forum. maybe the room isn't available. maybe there is a giant festival in town that saturday and nobody will come. maybe all venues have been leveled by an earthquake....it's a long arduous process of deductive reasoning and i have absolutely zero interest in it. then there's contracts to write up and exacting haggling over money and show costs, dotted lines to sign on. i'm glad the agents of the world do this for us. thank you f and j and m at high road! a tour is  born.

advances/pre-production (november/december/january 2011)
once the cities and venues and dates are locked- i'm handed the show itinerary and i set to work from there. i put together giant worksheets with all our travel dates, how we are traveling, when we are traveling, where we are sleeping, where and when we will do major promo like tv shoots, where our shows are, when we should plan for ninja gigs and awesome adventures or private bbqs. the works. by january this one page worksheet will become a 75 page workbook that operates as the "tourbook"- a massive tome of knowledge that contains every ounce of show and travel and lodging info- right down to individual meet and greets per day and which new zealand journalist afp must talk to on the phone on january 27th at 2:pm. one page per day of tour. the forum show is merely one sheet in the book. but it's there. amanda will never read this book ever. it's sent to her every day...but...it's kinda a joke. and i don't mind. all the answers are there in one place to facilitate the easy transfer of info amongst our team. SK reads it. she is the best.

meanwhile i'm booking our flights and cars and trains to all these places. melbourne included. i'm lining up our support artists for every show.  i'm finding hotels and working with team chaos on fan lodging options, thanks you h! i'm starting to field emails from our publicist on potential promo dates, thank you mrh! I'm working with our internet team to make sure all the initial info on the afp website is correct (date, city,venue, ticket price, ages), thank you s! i'm in the initial stages of planning merch drops or bundle options, thank you b! i try to determine what we will need on the road to maintain our sanity, thanks sk! it's all planning. and nothing but planning. and lots more planning. planning is good. it makes melbourne happen.

by the beginning of january- its time to start the "advance" process. i reach out to every individual venue production manager with an initial greeting, our tour rider with all our show details, tech specs and stage plots. i have a list of questions i need answered about every venue for the tourbook. how many dressing rooms are there? where are the load-in doors? can we throw confetti? fake blood? when is curfew? etc etc. it's a long list....it's invaluable. the infrastructure of the room determines how a lot of work gets done for every member of the team. h can't approve 5 people to deliver fan food if there is one small dressing room. s has to redo the website if the ticket-price info we got was initially wrong. we have to adjust the light show if the venue system is weak. if there is no wireless internet...afp and i will likely spend the entire morning in a cafe around the corner- we can put out all these fires...but i have to see them smoking from the distance first. 

on a tour this size. my advances usually go out 3 weeks before the actual show. for each show. but as the melbourne gig was tied in with the other frontier shows- the melbourne advance was first sent on jan 5th. and we started rolling the ball. like sysiphus. the boulder always rolls back down. there is always some minor setback or kink that needs undoing. and pre-production never stops. i will be working on details in relation to the melbourne show from jan 5th, right up until february 25th- the day before it all goes off. and this is all occurring while we are on the road. while the tour is actually happening. on top of all the other million and one amazing things that go into any afp project. the show is just a fraction of it all. what about the video team we've hired for the shoot? are the go go dancers available? is our merch in order? what's the promo schedule this day, does it interfere with soundcheck? and this is why we are ALWAYS going on and on about the damned wireless internet and work-parties and my garbage phone that can't do email well.... we live on our macbooks. the sandwiches are fucking wicked....

show day
and it all comes down to the day of.

np, our promoter rep on frontier's side, picked kbb and jb and i up in collingwood at 2:45 pm and we were off. thanks for everything, np! (it's been a wild ride.)

3:00- band equipment load-in at the forum. m and the ts w/ st. c. bring gear to stage and start setting set up.

3:05-3:10- introductory meeting with j, the venue manager.

3:10-3:40- tech meeting with venue foh/mons/lights guys. i rediscuss the entire stage set-up, show schedule, running order, our tech needs etc. etc. i get a tour of the 3rd story statues where amanda will wear the harness to start the show.

3:40- 4:05- i assign and post signs and redistribute our rider amongst the seven dressing rooms in the basement with the help of the backstage coordinator. thanks dude! sorry i forgot your name.

4:05- set up my printer and computer and production gear in my "office" off stage left.

4:05- 4:25- brief meeting with gj abouts the 4 camera video shoot, audio recording, and webcast. all was in perfect order. good work gj!

4:25- quick meeting with all support artists and managers to review everything that is happening tonight and how tight the schedule is. ck with the tinstar is a total rockstar. she gets it. her head is on straight. so glad i got to work with her on this tour. thanks for everything ck!  see you stateside soon i hope!

4:20- 4:40- take a machete to my inbox, process 15 emails poorly. type and print a preliminary setlist and show schedule for amanda and mikelangelo to review and amend.

5:00- amanda arrives on site. i have room tepid waters waiting. i've already had the room temperature adjusted. and the stage flowers are placed where she'll put her backpack down so she sees them. meanwhile the band is soundchecking and making noise. amanda joins in for two hours of rehearsal.

5:04- assign VIP tables for our special friends.

5:05-5:28- i take inventory and update my accounting spreadsheets to reflect our merch sales at the evelyn hotel the night before. i set some comps aside for give-aways and charity auctions. i return the unsold merch to our vendors at the forum.

5:30- run back to merch counter with printed mailing list sheets! grab a copy of the book and cd for stage.

5:35- meeting with jason. we decide tonight is an excellent time for evelyn and evelyn to make a brief appearance and hopefully play a song. the twins don't love the idea...it was very last minute and took them by surprise...but in the end...i had a twix handy...we convinced them to do it.

5:40- 5:45- i go online for a 5 minute gmail chat with my boy. jgs is superman. he's the best ever. it's hard to be apart. it's harder when we don't even have time to talk as the road gets so busy. he is a super trooper.

5:45- 5:50- five minute shower/whore-bath in the bathroom attached to my office. sit around office naked for a few minutes. doing nothing. breathing. trying to relax.

5:50-6:00- make 7 phone calls and make sure everything is all set for the everything that is gonna happen between 6:30 and 8:00. things are about to go mental.

6:00- meet e and l, our awesome fan-fooders. get them downstairs to set up our delicious dinner...thanks so much guys! it was amazing.

6:05- assemble and print our 97 person guestlist. 10 are from frontier, 22 are from mikelangelo, 8 are from jaa and kbb, 19 are from m our incredible publicist,  the rest of the names are ours.

6:10- run to lobby to meet the various ngo's who are tabling in our forum. grab merch they need signed for auctions. way to go politicos! lobby that shnike!

6:15- review statue/harness situation with amanda and venue and camera crew. this is the moment we realize the harness will not fit over amanda's costume. she'll open the show mostly nude. at 6:17 we decide to do the "amanda get's dressed on stage" gag. this is how we roll.....spontaneous creative awesome sauce.

6:20- security meeting and media policy review with venue security staff. i explain our complete and utter hands-off approach to crowd control. thank you venue security! and thank you our audience for being so well behaved. venue staff are always amazed how easy our shows are. this says a lot about you guys! for the future, please understand- venue security staff are doing. their. jobs. they take orders from the law, the venue, then the band, in that order. they are looking out for our best interest, and yours. your. personal. safety. i understand how easy it is to get frustrated with burly security guys when you can't get your way. but for real. they are doing their job and they are good at it. do not take them for granted. ever. please.

6:30- give amanda and the band 20 minute warning. we have to get off stage soon. they still have 6 songs left to rehearse.

6:35-6:45- epic map of tasmania rehearsal and guest blocking. a giant plan is established. i keep our little surprise a secret- hoping it's so good that amanda won't freak out when i sabotage her entire map of taz plan hours later. band still needs to rehearse the remaining songs. we decide to push doors a few minutes.

6:50- kick everyone off stage. make sure jaa and kbb and jason webley have time to soundcheck- albeit so very briefly...

6:52- have 20 approved setlists and 30 approved set schedules printed and photocopied and delivered to every artist, every dressing room, every venue house and tech person, the video team etc....i printed 6 too many set schedules....

7:00ish- or maybe a few minutes later. we open doors. the crowd trickles inside.

7:00- our first scheduled meet and greet is unable to attend (kinda a relief!). he was one of the brunswick hotel gig auction winners, and as amanda was so sick...she was unable to fulfil his winning bid request that night. we had to make it up to him.  i am very glad we got to connect with dc in adelaide a week later. good to meet you! and thank you so much for the bottle of scotch! it is really fucking good...

7:02- i get amanda to sign all the merch for the various charities and ngo's.

7:04-7:06- the two of us have a brief meeting about all the various things about to happen.

7:10-7:25- we steal jaa's dressing room to film a video interview with mh. she is delightful. so glad we met her!

7:25-7:30- all too brief meet and greet with d, our guy at our merch company. he has been amazing. not a single merch problem the entire tour....and our style of touring can create incredible problems. he weathered the storm for two whole months with massive grace. thanks d! no more ninja gigs coming up...i promise. (actually...we do two more) wish we could have spent more time with you. we owe you big time.

7:30-7:40- ask amanda to eat some dinner. meet and greet with e and l. who are still incredibly forgiving that our schedule is so slammed.

7:40-8:00- inconvenience everyone so that j from brisbane can film a video in the stairwell with mikelangelo and amanda. sorry guys. it was all my fault. we really liked the stairwell...thanks for the video j! can't wait to see the brisbane footage.

8:00-8:15- kim boekbinder hits the stage and plays beautiful songs. jason, amanda, and i start getting the twins prepared for their song...i have already laid out their outfit and make-up. they need to do their laundry more often!

8:20-8:35- the jane austen argument hit the stage and play beautiful songs. so glad i got to meet t and j, and you too ad'e, they are all special people and i will miss them.
 we continue to prep the twins.

8:40- evelyn evelyn hit the stage and play a beautiful song. way to go, twins!

8:45-9:15- mikelangelo and the tin star with st. clare hit the stage and play beautiful songs....though maybe "shred balkan surf guitar dance hits" is more appropriate.
amanda and i take more instapix photos, get dressed, make-up, sip some wine etc.

9:20- changeover. i rush on stage to set up amanda's keyboard notes, waters, wine, stage merch etc. i drop her costume in a pile on the floor stage left.

9:25- jason webley hits the stage to play a beautiful song. meanwhile amanda is getting into her harness and climbing up into the statues with her ukelele.

this show is on!

makin' whoopee- i run backstage to check twitter on amanda's phone. i jump on my laptop to test the webcast quality. the audio and video seem fine. gj is doing a great job. i twitter the universe to get people to tune in to the webcast. i run to get mikelangelo and the tin star ready for their entrance. amanda finishes the song and we go into the "amanda gets dressed" bit....oh man. two months and i still can't tie her corset. i'm guessing none of you heard her whisper "get a girl to do it!" while we were waving that aussie flag around....but it wasn't my fault. she had put it on upside down! also, she forgot about her underwear...i had to run down to the dressing room and grab it while this was all still happening.

missed me (w/ M/TS)-  i screwed up here. i was supposed to hold the mic lead so amanda could walk out into the audience. but i forgot because...i run backstage to check twitter on amanda's phone. i jump on my laptop to test the webcast quality. the audio and video seem fine. gj is doing a great job. i twitter the universe to get people to tune in to the webcast. i run to get mikelangelo and the tin star ready for their entrance. sorry, amanda, i screwed it up...and i totally missed the bit where you fell into the pit. tour manager fail. for realz.

astronaut (w/ M/TS)- i don't even remember what i was doing. twittering about webcast again?...but i must have been busy cuz i missed this song too...i am always side of stage for amanda's whole performance in case she needs anything. if i wasn't there...something must have happened...putting out small fires.

dr. oz (w/ M/TS)- i run downstairs to get the jaa ready for their number with amanda. i also find out that my special surprise for map of tasmania has arrived. i deal with that very briefly.

bad wine and lemon cake (w/JAA)-  i run downstairs to get jason ready for his number with amanda.

icarus (w/ jason webley)- relax....breathe...

in my mind- run downstairs to get kim ready for her number with amanda...

such great heights (w/ KBB)- continue writing down the actual setlist in my notebook for apra. fortunately amanda is sticking tight to the setlist tonight...she frequently doesn't....towards the end i sneak onto stage to tape amanda's keyboard notes her kurtzweill. i had forgotten to do this during soundcheck....

australia- hang out stage left. cry quietly on the inside...this is easily one of my faves from amanda's newish stuff. the sentiment is so fucking touching...and our time in oz is almost up. i never miss this one during the set.

glass slipper- by audience request. holy moly! twitter about webcast again.

(at this point amanda skips an item on her keyboard notes...i can tell immediately that she needs the band back...i run downstairs...)

drover's boy (w/ M/TS)- grab my first beer of the evening....remain stage left. write in my notebook. put out small fires.

guitar hero (w/ M/TS)-  breathe....relax...scribble in notebook.


coin-operated boy (w/ M/TS)- run backstage. grab go go girls for red cross reach out. put on my "costume" for map of tasmania...


formidable marinade (w/ M/TS)- collect the donation money that the go go dancers have collected for christchurch. way to go ladies! we raised $3240 or something like that.

runs in the family (w/ M/TS)- run  down stairs to get my prank ready for the encore.

oasis (w/ M/TS)- dance ecstatically off stage left with all our friends and family. run downstairs to grab one water and one beer for when amanda gets off stage.

encore: map of tasmania (w/ everyone)- i owe a giant debt of gratitude to Kim- she was napping in my hotel room in fremantle weeks ago when it hit me. strippers...i've always wanted to get strippers. and kim had the direct line. she connected me with ac and jd. they are the real deal. they design their costumes and have toured with peaches, the big day out, and other gigs around the world (watch out nyc, they are gonna destroy you this summer). we emailed. we put together a plan. it was a good one. i had originally asked them to get Australian Federated Police costumes...i shouldn't have even tried, and just trusted...they did me so much better. the bogan bit was a sweet touch. yeah....we sabotaged amanda's grand tazzy plan, but it was worth it. the video by jim batt says it all:

leeds united (w/ everyone)- get mostly dressed. continue dancing with everyone on stage.

2nd encore: the drinking song- run around frantically grabbing everyone again for more dancing on stage. skull the beer on the last note- a tradition that began on evelyn evelyn tour. i've stopped doing this actually... but amanda signaled me to the front of stage during the final refrain...and instinct kicked in. dirty-secret: the beer was only half full. i wasn't expecting to do it so i had been sipping the bottle while dancing....usually i had a full beer hidden on stage and i would pop the cap off on stage as proof....

11:24 or was it 11:44? show ends.

and believe it or not, everything only gets wilder from here. post-show is the fastest hardest part of the night. we're up against a venue curfew (it could be as short as 60 minutes in certain venues) and there is a lot that still has to happen. this is when my blood starts to race. the adrenaline kicks in. i'll be awake for hours from the energy generated by loading out....this is maybe a problem....the memory is a total blur. it all just happens in a frenzy and it bleeds together.

usually i would spend the next 30 to 60 minutes or so with the promoters...reviewing costs and settling the show and having a laugh....but we all agreed to skip this and do it at a later date. best. idea. ever. which left me free to: 

-distribute setlists to crowd.

-congratulate and thank all our friends and family and business folk for their hard work on the tour. hand-shakes and hugs all around.

-clear amanda's gear off stage.

-conduct two more meet and greets with business folk.

-take backstage photos for the merch packages b still needs.

-organize amanda's signing line.

-grab the poster making supplies.

-hunt down fancy friends in the audience to escort them backstage.

-hunt down more beer for our friends.

-discuss crowd control issues with the venue manager/ask if we had any problems.

-settle accounts with one of the support artist managers.

-settle accounts with our video team.

-try and chase down the earlier missed meet and greeter (i failed)

-take photos for amanda at the signing line.

-grab mailing lists from the merch table.

-pack up the costume bag.

-pack up my office.

-idiot check dressing rooms for lost items.

-locate mikelangelo's missing maraccas.

-coordinate everyone to after-party plan.

-get everyone out the door.

-sit down. exhale. swig some whiskey in the quiet of my now empty office.

-grab my bags and go.

...90 minutes after the show ended...

...other than the venue folk, i'll be the last guy out the door. but in minutes i'll be back with our people in the rain on the balcony of the supper club singing the collected works of michael jackson to the dulcet sounds of jw's accordion. i may or may not drink heavily....it depends. on whether we wake up and do it all again tomorrow....

and that's how we make the magic happen....hope you all enjoyed it as much as i did!

Monday, February 28, 2011

Amanda Fucking Palmer Down Under- Auckland/Melbourne/Sydney

2.23.11, King's Arms, Auckland

makin' whoopee
sex changes
missed me
mrs. o
in my mind
double rainbow
mr. piano man* (kinda...billy joel cover)
elephant elephant*
bacteria bacteria*
new zealand (extended ballad version)
map of tasmania*
unknown beach
girl anachronism
you only want me....*
runs in the family
e: oasis
drinking song*

* w/ Jason Webley

i'm gonna hold onto the melbourne list until tomorrow's epic melbourne blog.

i don't really wanna go into the whole christchurch ordeal. i can't. it's hard for me. i've seen my share of natural disasters- on and off the road. but as i grow up i get more and more cautious. life is too short as it is. our near miss with fate ground me down to the bone. sometimes i feel i'm now too old to be chasing tornados...

the auckland show was great. it really was. i'm glad jason made it safely.

and just like that- we were back in melbourne. more on that tomorrow.

and just like that- we were back in sydney with djs and s and gsn for pretty peepers. it was rad. the level of art and craft amongst the performers put american cabaret/burlesque to shame. amanda dj-ed a great set of songs through the night. i got to bring out my rusty danish on s's mom...still got it!

i'll leave you with some photos for fun. but it's all about the upcoming melbourne blog so stay with me. the internetz in adelaide are driving me crazy...pics won't go up in order...shoddy blog!
i like this one from webstock, afp called me the karate kid, wellington 2.18.11- photo by?
my life in photos, sydney airport, 2.28.11- photo by afp
hilarious. thanks ian! at pretty peepers in erskineville 2.27.11- photo by karina

Monday, February 21, 2011

Amanda Fucking Palmer Down Under- Wellington & Napier

2.18.11, Webstock, Town Hall, Wellington NZ (private event)

makin' whoopie
i google you
gaga, palmer, madonna: a polemic
new zealand
map of tasmania
on an unknown beach
mrs. o
pirate jenny
coin-op boy
do you swear to...yer black ass
bacteria bacteria*
the drinking song*

* w/ Jason Webley


2.19.11, Bodega, Wellington NZ

makin' whoopie
sex changes
missed me
happy birthday
you only want me 'cause you want my sister*
map of tasmania*
new zealand*
in my mind
i don't care much
runs in the family
on an unknown beach
-book reading-
do you swear to...yer black ass
e: astronaut
drinking song


oh. wow. this is gonna be rough...so much noise in the ether.

to start. i've always really liked wellington. always. it's a small city. it's my kinda city. i'm a country-mouse.

but i never get to spend enough time here. it's always fly in, play, fly out. i feel i could stay for weeks. i absolutely need to come back when i'm not working. new zealand has been high on the list of worlds to explore ever since i was young. i'm so lucky and fortunate i get to swing through for work every once in a great while, and the dream is semi-realized. but also...it's a cock-tease. i'm always left wanting more...

this time around it was all about webstock. yeah. we did a ninja gig and the mayor came. we did a rock show at Bodega, and it might have been one of the best of the tour... but webstock was something else.

something new.

for two.five days we stepped out of our "rock world" and into a familiar, though foreign territory: web conferences.

amanda has done a handful of these before. she tells me zoe keating and imogen heap do them all the time. but it was new to me. two days of workshops and speeches and fancy meals. social networking while socially networking.

the other speakers were rather fancy folk. high-ups at google, apple, facebook, tumblr, yahoo/bbc, writers, college professors, pirate kings, font/design mavericks...an impressive list of uber-knowledgeable trend-setters with their fingers on the pulse. and to stand from a world apart and get an insiders' perception of their world- which we use everyday to operate in OUR world...was almost alien. in a good way.

there's no question tech is the new "music-industry". innovators and foreseers on the net are the new "rockstars". ask lefsetz. or don't ask lefsetz. there's no need. but the web is where the excitement is. the web is where the future is happening. the web is where the rockstars are being produced. steve jobs matters more than steven tyler. and he used to matter a lot...the web is where musicians are going to have careers...in music. and that is weird. but amazing. maybe amanda and jason were the musicians. but we were surrounded by the modern rockstars left and right.

and to get some insight into it all...totally awesome.

and for a few days it was also humanizing. the constant reminder that there is more out there in the world than the parameters of my tourbook (an excel workbook with 64 worksheets, lame-o), our flight schedule, the 14 cities we have shows in...an education. a knowing. an experience far removed from our norm. i still have a really big question i wanna ask tc about the bbc....the bbc i forget exists for weeks at a time when i'm on the road and neglect to get the news...ever and always.

on top of it all...the event itself was organized in the most awesome of manners from the top down. even though amanda and jason performed a full show, it wasn't like any "show" environment i had seen before. there were welcoming parties, dinners of honor, legions of minions to do my bidding, fancy hotels, easy schedules, pro audio teams, scheduled slots for socializing, great food, on and on and on. word on the street is webstock is one of the best web events in the world- everyone likes doing this one. and it shows. mike and tash work their asses off to provide such a fantastic THING IN THE WORLD. i'm really grateful for all their awesome-sauce, and their incredible star treatment. special shout out to mike forbes as well...your kickass knows no boundaries. and to keith and michelle and the other tash and deb (from maine!) and ben (?) and all the rest of you- i'm so sorry i'm so bad with names. but. really. you all did a great job making us feel at home and it was appreciated. you all do good work. ask me back next year? i'll think of something to do...i'll volunteer!

and just like that it was over. or rather we were back in rock-world doing rock shows on a rock schedule doing rock-y things like rock people do. breaking the rules....

...it's great to see jason webley. i've missed him. i haven't seen him since we finished evelyn evelyn tour last year. this world is a strange and lonely and fortuitous one. we all spin in and out of each others' orbits in chaotic patterns of time. i wonder what it's like to feel solid. to feel and think and see the same thing every day...part of me would get it. part of me would scream. really. really. loud. in verdana capital bold. (thank you jsm)

and now we are in napier for two days without jason.

napier...who woulddathunkit?

story of our lives. another uncalculated adventure. the best kind...

we didn't realize we'd be rolling into town during the last hours of Arts Deco Week until we had already made our plans to come here. and boy howdy! we were sure glad we did...

the entire town was rebuilt in early art deco style from top to bottom after a major earthquake in 1931. hastings, the shelbyville to napier's springfield, was rebuilt in the spanish missionary style...you can guess which city won the glory. the rivalry is ages old.

napier is the "art deco city of the world". miami... eat my shorts.

the dork in me has been freakin' out since arrival (i have an art history degree...kinda. and wait 'til the part about the fossils...).

we just happened to have enough retro clothing on us to throw together deco-ish outfits. pure coincidence i swear. i borrowed a newsie's cap from a ninja-gigger. we took photos with fancy cars and amanda played her uke in the middle of the road. the best ones of afp and i are here and here. but here's one more for the road...literally.

Newsies cast reject in Napier, NZ. photo by afp

it rained. we ate turkish food. we had an amazing evening with kya and aidan and boudicca and nyssa.
we slept late and woke up and did laundry and ate berries from their garden and i gave myself a haircut (finally..the most 48 human hours of tour...).

washing yer shirts for the first time in 6 weeks is awesome. also, doing laundry sucks. photo by afp.

we spent the afternoon walking atop te mata peak with the fam. strolling through redwood forests. scouting vineyard amphitheatres for future gig locales... nothing will bring you back to earth like playing with toddlers.

oh. and the fossils. i would post my own photo but i'm having mac/blackberry troubles. te mata is easily a kilometer above sea level. but once upon a time all of new zealand was under water... there are thousands of fossils underfoot...all of them seashells. (science-nerd freak out!). and they are all on top of this mountain with hangliders and 100 meter drops to your death amongst sheep feces...

this multi-thousands year old scallop shell fossil makes me feel sad. but the inner nerd is...photo by afp.

it's late and i'm rattling on....this blog was really rough. all these amazing things happened over the last few days. but i couldn't find the words to get it all out there....i really just wanted my mom to know what i was up to...hey mom! we're flying to christchurch tomorrow. we land at 3:35 pm. i'm gonna see julie from pdx who just got off the ice in antarctica. and i'm thinking of you....xoxoxo

i'm king of the world...or maybe just Gondor.... photo by kya.