Last night, I went to see EvelynEvelyn at the TLA on South Street.
The feminist hoopla seems to have died down (although it’s perhaps still going – I have mainly stopped reading feminst blogspaces for a number of reasons), and I kept thinking last night how glad I am that Amanda and Jason were able to put aside the criticisms and continue the show. It was fantastic.
First of all, they put seats in the TLA (which is usually standing room only), and that confused me. But then I discovered that the tickets I’d bought were row B, just left of center stage. AMAZING.
The opener was the incredible Sxip Shirey, who makes the kind of art that confounds me. His performance last night consisted of some hilarious faux-standup comedy, a table full of instruments fashioned from horns and bicycle bells and penny whistles duct-taped together, a harmonica, a bowl with a marble in it, and an effects board with all kinds of bad-ass things happening. He played a small set of songs, the first of which was a very cool beat-heavy homage to Brooklyn, the second of which was a beautiful sound collage that he called a love song for his friends who were recently married (and are now expecting a baby), and the last of which involved the Sxipenspiel, a present from Amanda Palmer and Neil Gaiman, which consists of a handful of bicycle bells attached to a candlestick. He was incredibly entertaining, and I was struck by the ingenuity involved in making that kind of art. It reminds me of conceptual visual art, which I generally find beautiful and meaningful, though I don’t necessarily understand the creative process (or the meaning–see Marcel Duchamp’s Fountain). Sometimes I find the same thing about language poets. Anyway, you can see the video for Sxip’s Ode to Brooklyn here: “I Live In New York City“.
Sxip was immediately followed by the EvelynEvelyn set, which was humorous and entertaining, and more than just a standard set of songs. Amanda and Jason never once dropped out of character. It was clear that some of the “mistakes” that occurred in the show were planned (such as when Amanda, as one of the Evelyns, freaked out during a performance of “Chicken Man,” and tour manager/handler Sxip had to interrupt the performance to calm her down), but some were definitely real-time errors (such as when Jason forgot the lyrics to “Have You Seen My Sister Evelyn”)–and the handling of these real-time errors was so much fun! There was also a puppet show (yes! a puppet show!), and it’s clear that Amanda, Jason and Sxip all put a huge amount of thought into the creation of the show. I wanted all the anti-ableist feminists to take notice that Amanda and Jason were actually pretty clear in their satirical take on disabled exploitation, and I thought it was a wonderful performance.
After a short intermission (during which I used the restrooms to find that they were astoundingly clean, if small, for Philadelphia), Jason Webley did a short solo set. Man, that dude is incredible on the accordion. Really, really incredible. His energy was unbelievable, and I am now sold as a solid fan. He opened with a song called “There’s Not A Step We Can Take That Does Not Bring Us Closer,” during which he insisted the audience serve as his orchestra – one half (my half) of the crowd was to act as the violins, and the other as the trombones. It was delightful. He performed a couple of really high-energy songs, then toned it down to play two ballads on the guitar for his grandmother, who passed away just a few hours before the show started. It was lovely and inspiring.
At the end of Jason’s set, he introduced Amanda Palmer and welcomed Sxip back on stage, and the three played a song I didn’t know, but which was awesome. She looked lovely as always, and after the boys left the stage, she launched immediately into “Astronaut” (probably my favorite from her WKAP album). She followed it with “Mrs. O,” a cover of Radiohead’s “High and Dry,” a new song released immediately after being dropped from her record label (a cause for celebration), and an encore of “Runs in the Family” (yay!) and a rousing drinking song sung with the entire touring crew onstage.
It was a fantastic evening out. I became convinced last night that I will always forgive Amanda her annoying, uncomfortable level of exhibitionism, because when she sits down behind the keyboard and throws her entire body into the opening chords of “Astronaut,” everything in the world is right again.
Photos here; videos to come on YouTube.