Finally – over a week after the concert – I think I’ve finally got my thoughts together enough to try and post them in some vaguely coherent form. Maybe.
Here’s what it took me a week to carefully phrase:
OMG OMG OMG HOLY SHIT AMAZING.
(So worth the wait, right?)
Here’s where I begin subjecting you to an exhaustive blow-by-blow account. Beginning with knitting. (Because everything begins with knitting)
We waited in line for a long time. I knitted my ticket.
And drank chai tea. And talked to a bunch of whippersnappers. (Had they been on my lawn, I surely would have asked them to kindly remove themselves)
And when they finally opened the doors, I bought a t-shirt.
(I wore it on Saturday)
Look! It’s us!
(I think this is one of those things that everyone does, right? Get really excited to see “your” city on the tour list, even when you’re standing RIGHT THERE IN THE VENUE? Tell me I’m not alone here…)
Some people drink to pass the time. Others dance like awkward cockatoos.
Jeff and I play WordFeud and knit.
We are so hardcore, y’all.
(He almost brought his Admin Law casebook but I convinced him not to. We’re not *that* ROCKSTAR!, you see.)
The opening band:
They were Sleepy Kitty, and they were pretty OK. The drummer guy was a lot better than the keyboard/guitar/vocals girl. But she had good hair.
IT WAS TIME.
Somehow I feel that all caps and a few exclamation points are insultingly insufficient to convey the extent of my excitement. Almost comically so.
Because as soon as they started playing, I really got it. I mean, I’d already considered myself a real fan. I loved the music, and felt like it spoke to me in ways that most other music doesn’t.
But it wasn’t until I saw them live, in the cozy little venue, with the drums pulsating through my chest and shoulders and getting to witness Brian and Amanda’s rapport first-hand, that I truly understood.
I’ve been to my fair share of concerts. Some good, some AWESOME, some not-so-good. And I can honestly say that this was the best by far.
I don’t know that I’ve ever seen such focused channeling of raw energy, or such a sublime connection between two performers. They did an extended, improvised intro to “Half Jack” at the end of the encore, and it was truly one of the most amazing musical conversations I’ve ever seen. Watching Amanda and Brian play was less like watching two band members, and more like watching two halves of the same person.
I really just can’t even describe it. But it was phenomenal. Breathtaking. And, of course, completely inadequately conveyed in my awkward words and blurry pictures.
Other highlights of the concert:
1)”Pierre”. Only the Dresden Dolls can take that little song and make it so funny, and vibrant, and grotesque. Loved watching Brian in this one. (And here‘s a fun dubbing of the original)
2)”Mandy Goes to Med School”. Not one of my favorite songs, generally, but it was so much fun to watch live.
3)”Delilah”. Another that I don’t adore on the album, but have a newfound love for.
4)”Night Reconnaissance”. I think they may have opened with this one? Don’t quite recall. But this was so playful and lively and fun. They drew the audience into the joke as we heard it unfold – and managed to make one of my old favorites sound fresh all over again.
The other thing that really got me was how well balanced they are. Just listening to the albums, if you don’t know better, it’s possible to sort of think you’ve lost a sense of Brian. Since his vocals are few and far between, and the drums – by definition – provide rhythm and balance to round out the overall sound, I had wondered about the extent of Brian’s contribution to the band. I’ve heard other people say that the Dresden Dolls were “Amanda Palmer and that other guy”, but one you see them live you realize that that just isn’t the case. Brian’s presence onstage was very powerful, and while he did offer vital balance to the music, he didn’t come anywhere close to fading into the background. Each piece was a unified exchange, a back-and-forth, and it really wouldn’t be the same with just any old drummer. I didn’t really understand that before seeing them live. I get it now.
And while I was musing over this, I was simultaneously snapping pictures and singing at the top of my lungs and dancing on my barstool and hugging Jeff. It was a busy night in my brain.
There was enough delay between the show and the encore that I started to wonder if there wasn’t going to *be* an encore. But of course, they reappeared. And began with “Mein Herr”. Singing from the balcony. And I was happy.
One last photo – this was during the Jeep Song, when they had several audience members onstage. What was supposed to be backup singing on the chorus ultimately turned into an on-stage dance party.
(complete with an odd, 50-year-old boy-man with a bowl haircut)
This was truly the best concert I’ve ever been to in my entire life. It was well worth the wait, and the cold, and the hoarse voice the next morning. Brian and Amanda have an amazing partnership, and I was so glad to have been able to see them on tour. I don’t know if they’ll be recording together anymore or if this reunion tour was a one-off, but I could honestly be content either way. (Though don’t get me wrong, I’d be deliriously happy if they released a new album!). This is now – for me – the gold standard of concerts, and I’m so glad I got to go.
Links for the uninitiated:
If you’re just starting out, try “The Jeep Song” (my favorite ever!), “Gravity”, and “Missed Me” from their self-titled album, or “Sing”, “Backstabber”, “Shores of California” or “Mrs. O” from Yes, Virginia. But you really can’t go wrong with anything. Promise.