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.