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September 26th, 2012 MARTIN CIZMAR | Music Stories
 

Primer: Amanda Palmer & the Grand Theft Orchestra

music_ap_3847AMANDA PALMER - IMAGE: amandapalmer.net
Born: 1976 in New York City. 

Sounds like: Ben Folds’ theater-geek high-school girlfriend. 

For fans of: Referential piano-based pop music, Twin Peaks, Regina Spektor.

Latest release: The epic-yet-loose Theatre Is Evil, an arty exploration of memes, fame and sex that was funded by Kickstarter and, strangely, seems to anticipate the backlash that’s followed Amanda Palmer’s appeal for backing musicians to play for free on her tour.

Why you care: Because Palmer’s career is almost as interesting as her music. Like a lot of acts with intensely devoted fan bases, the burlesque-y pianist/ukulele player found the best way to profit from her art was to ditch the industry and appeal for funds via the Internet. Turns out, people were happy to fork over $1 million, which is way more than it costs to record, manufacture and distribute a record these days. But there is some bizarre sort of accountability/ownership thing that arises. After raising a quick million thanks to the generosity of listeners like you, Palmer dared plot a tour where local baritone saxophonists and trombone players would honk along with her band for a song or two in exchange for beers, T-shirts and high-fives. Who’s in a position to complain? Everyone, as it turns out: union musicians; donors who funded Palmer’s record; anyone who owns a trumpet; Steve Albini. Palmer eventually backed down, yielding to a boss far nastier than any A&R man. If, as they say, you work for whomever you are afraid to offend, Palmer now works for the whole Internet. A bitch gig, if you ask me.


SEE IT: Amanda Palmer & the Grand Theft Orchestra play Wonder Ballroom, 128 NE Russell St., on Friday, Sept. 28. 9 pm. $25-28. All ages.

 
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