Amanda Palmer has proven time and again that she’s no one to be trifled with. Over the past decade she has evolved from fronting alternative pop-punk duo the Dresden Dolls to creating challenging and provocative art-punk cabaret music as a solo artist. Now she’s leading the ambitious Grand Theft Orchestra, replete with horns and strings and overflowing with boundless spirit.
Equally impressive is the Kickstarter campaign Palmer recently concluded to fund her upcoming album, which raised $1.2 million, far surpassing her $100,000 goal and making it the most lucrative musical campaign ever funded on the crowd-sourcing website. “This is the future of music,” she said of the campaign, and for her purposes, she might just be right.
Palmer has always been one to push boundaries, so bypassing label and corporate support to raise more than $1 million to fund packaging, distribution and touring for the new album, “Theatre Is Evil,” is right up her alley. At the sold-out show, Palmer and her able all-male backing band gave fans a sneak peek of the album, which is due out in September, performing more than half of its 16 tracks during her two-hour set.
Dressed in her trademark black bra and corset and swigging from a bottle of wine, Palmer pounded on her keyboards and served as ringmaster for a musical theater-inspired display. Although her voice is raw and doesn’t have tremendous range, she more than makes up for it with her charisma, emotion and songwriting chops.
The band kicked off with the new tune “Do It With a Rockstar.” Palmer paused briefly and said, “Sorry, I got a piece of rhinestone stuck in my keyboard,” and the crowd hollered back in response. They then segued into the Dresden Dolls’ tune, “Missed Me,” and the band had fun swapping instruments throughout the song.
Palmer also previewed new tracks including the powerful ballad, “The Bed Song,” and “Massachusetts Avenue,” an upbeat number that reminisces about lost love on the streets of Boston, Palmer’s hometown. A five-piece brass section punctuated the tune and perfectly illustrated the more lush, filled-out sound Palmer is channeling.
Several of the new tunes had a new-wave, synthesizer-heavy vibe, while others exhibited Palmer’s penchant for cabaret. The group also ran through a handful of Dresden Dolls tunes, and concluded the night with an all-out celebration during “Leeds United” on which several members of the crowd jumped up on stage to dance with the band.