State Theatre, St. Petersburg, FL • March 26, 2009
The State Theatre in St. Petersburg became the biggest bedroom in Florida when Amanda Palmer brought her solo show to town. Sure, it was a concert, but Amanda turned this big old theatre into an intimate dorm room party for a few hundred friends.
Amanda opened her solo set with a driving rendition of “Astronaut,” following with the alternately intense and quirky tunes that characterize both her solo album, Who Killed Amanda Palmer, and her previous band, Dresden Dolls. The first sign that this wasn’t going to be a normal show came when Amanda stopped in the middle of a slightly creepy song about seduction to break up a little scuffle in the front row. Palmer stopped the song to ask what the problem was. When the jostling didn’t stop, Palmer got up from the piano and directed the perturbed parties to their own separate spots in the front row. Amanda picked up the tune where she left off after telling us that we should all love each other and look out for each other.
Things really went into dorm party mode when Palmer asked for song requests via Twitter. This led to an improvisation on “Hotel California” with the audience providing lead vocals. An “Ask Amanda” segment followed where Palmer responded to written questions pulled out of an eco-friendly shopping bag by the members of her opening act, Vermillion Lies. For about twenty minutes, Amanda answered or evaded questions about her love life, songwriting, working with Ben Folds, and Hair Machine, a faux metal band who played half a song before ending their set in a spat.
The second act got off to a great start with Vermillion Lies joining Amanda for “Oasis,” the controversial tune about date rape, abortion, and fawning fandom. The pacing of the latter part of the show felt uneven. The song selection felt off the cuff and the momentum was frequently interrupted by banter with the audience and God (aka the soundman). Amanda still hit some high spots with an appropriately quirky version of “Coin Operated Boy” and the psycho Lolita twist of “Missed Me” as the show wound to a close.
Amanda came back for an encore carrying a ukulele for an unamplified rendition of Radiohead’s “Creep.” Midway through the song, Amanda and the Vermillion Lies girls jumped off the stage to rush to the back of the room where they finished the song and the show.
The show was over, but the crowd didn’t disperse. The line at the merchandise table snaked through the lobby, and a ukulele quartet led fans in sing along. Fans waited patiently with their purchases for a chance to share a few personal moments with Amanda Palmer and get their purchases autographed. As a concert, the show was a bit of a disjointed mess. As a joyous communion between performer and fans, it was priceless.
Amanda Palmer: www.myspace.com/whokilledamandapalmer