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 Punk Cabaret lives - Miscellaneous Debris – Archive

Punk Cabaret lives

בקטגוריות: Uncategorized

16 Oct 2006

The Dresden Dolls, when I first heard of them, were billed as a Punk Cabaret. At first, this simply seemed like a fanciful title for their somewhat theatrical style, the white facepaint and reference to pre-WWII Germany. After their show last week, though, I have to say one thing – punk cabaret lives.

Punk cabaret begins outside the show when you’re standing in line for your tickets. A mime with a tray walks quietly through the throng offering trades – take any item from the tray, put another one in. Pens, gym invitations, a cigarette and a teaspoon all passed through the tray at some point.

Inside, the venue can only be described as opulent. Red velvet drapes across the two stages, a large seating area and large empty space in front. That’s where everyone congregates – and that means everyone. Stilt walkers and jugglers criss-cross the crowd – the brigade is out in force. Then the lights go down and a wild-eyed man steps up – he hosts the evening as well as perfoming several dirges, raps and Albanian folk songs on a set of improvised instruments, rattlers and harmonicas all piped through heavily processed microphones. After him comes a cat-themed burlesque show, perfomed by the not-legally-topless-by-virtue-of-carefully-applied-pieces-of-tape and very accurately named Tit Kitty Revue.

Then the official opening act comes up. The Dresden Dolls picked up The Red Paintings during their recent Australian tour and brought them along with them to the US. They’re a bit too arty for my tastes – bass and violin players in kimonos, drummer with full Japanese face paint. People in full-body black paint with LEDs over their eyes in the background while people paint them in red during the show, and the lead singer in a green terry-cloth bathrobe throughout. All that nonwithstanding, they managed to rock out impressively, projecting a huge sonic wall and blasting away with unintelligable but vaguely anarchist lyrics. I think.

The Red Paintings played for almost an hour, and fter a short break a Vegas style stage magician comes up on the side stage, performing card tricks, telling dirty jokes and embarassing the victims he’s chosen for the given trick. After him the wild-haired Albanian New-Yorker gets back on for a final bit, and then proceeds to work the crowd up a bit, because the main act is coming up. The Dresden Dolls are going up on stage.

They come up in their standard garb – white face paint and fancy eyebrows contrasting with a worn old t-shirt on Amanda Palmer, Brian Viglione with his standard bowler hat. The crowd goes wild. The first notes of Sex Changes start and they really start kicking.

Drummers are a curious lot. They’re usually shoved to the back with the lead singer blocking the view, so they don’t get much air time. They can rant and rave and whack their drums but they usually won’t get too much attention. Brian Viglione has no such protections – he’s up front and half of the show and he carries it off well. He drums with ridiculous amounts of flair and panache. He jumps from his seat to stop the cymbal, spins around and makes faces at the crowd. His shirt comes off after the first song, the hat flies off into the crowd at some point and he just keeps on going. The greasepaint flows off his face with the sweat, his hair starts flying all over the place and he is just a marvel. Definitely the most entertaining drummer I have ever seen.

Meanwhile Amanda’s on the keyboard pounding away. She can’t sit still either – she rocks on her bench forward and backward, half standing on a foot, maybe lifting it up on her seat. Her act is more sedate than Brian’s, but she makes up for that with impassioned singing. Again, a great performer.

To maintain the cabaret atmosphere, Brian gets up from his drums and Amanda from her piano and they pull a Liza Minelli with Mein Herr with Brian on guitar, then back to the bigger show – and I do mean big.

Joining them for this one show are the Vau de Vire society, a avant-garde cabaret troupe from San Francisco. They were on stage for 4-5 of their songs. Sometimes just dancing in the background (doing silly 30’s vaudeville antics, usually during serious songs). For Missed Me, they were in full force, girls in revealing schoolgirl outfits, guys as lecherous old men and doing what avant-garde cabaret societies do, I suppose, which is (apparently) whack each other over the head with 12″ inch rubber penises. It seemed appropriate at the time, I suppose.

To make a long story short: the set was awesome. The show rocked. They did many of my favorites (The Jeep Song, Modern Moonlight) and many obligatories (Coin-Operated Boy, Sing) and even a cover of Tears for Fears’ Mad World along with the Red Paintings’ lead singer.

Next year they’ll probably do a European tour. My advice for all those concerned – pay attention to their tour schedule, find a good spot and intercept. I know I will.


Addendum – the set list for the show:

  1. Sex Changes
  2. Modern Moonlight
  3. Missed Me *
  4. Gravity *
  5. Backstabber
  6. Mein Herr
  7. Coin-Operated Boy
  8. Mandy Goes To Med School *
  9. Dirty Business
  10. The Jeep Song *
  11. Glass Slipper (set list says Mrs. O / First Orgasm, but this was done instead)
  12. Half Jack
  13. Girl Anachronism
  14. Delilah *
  15. Mad World **
  16. Sing

* – Performed with Vau de Vire
** – Performed with The Red Paintings’ Trash McSweeney


תגובה אחת על Punk Cabaret lives



25 בNovember, 2006 בשעה 13:32

Apparently, the play a lot of the Dolls songs in 88fm. Otherwise I wouldn’t have felt why their songs sound so familiar.

The reason I read this post after so long time is because 88fm played Coin Operated Boy, and it raised my curiosity so I looked it up, and when I found it’s by the Dresden Dolls, it immediately reminded me of this post.

I’m not sure I like all their songs, but I like Coin Operated Boy (Did you see the parody of it, called Beer Activated Girl?)

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