Review: Amanda Palmer and the Grand Theft Orchestra – Theatre is Evil

I’m not going to lie to you. I have heaps of things that are currently in my review queue, but a part of me feels like if I do not get this out I will explode. You know that feeling when you gorge in November on Turkey and other various carb-loaded goods (To-furkey for all y’all vegans) and sit down on a recliner and just want someone to rub your tummy? Yeah… Theatre is Evil is my motherfucking yams*, y’all.


Earlier this year, Amanda Palmer launched a Kickstarter to produce her latest album. It made so many different news feeds, I could link to it, but I like to pretend that many of the new stations don’t exists… Anyways… In exchange for helping there were several tiers of gifts and packages that you could buy into. Sadly, since I was planning to move (and have since moved and have no steady paycheck) I could only invest a small amount to the cause.


Last night I received my code for the Deluxe Digital Download. I had already turned off my computer for the night and was inching my way to my bedroom when I checked my phone and found the email. I immediately rushed to my computer to turn it back on and downloaded it with the impatience of a two year old in a room full of brightly wrapped presents.


Instead of sitting in bed, wishing that I could just demand my body to sleep, I went through all of the computer-centric content (art and videos) and loaded the album unto my phone so I could listen to it on the way to my temp gig in the morning.


This morning, I pressed play and started the drive to work. As it will be difficult to keep my train of thought, I figured that since I did a Record Club review of the Dresden Dolls album “Yes Virginia…” I would do a special “Theatre is Evil” review.


Amanda Palmer and the Grand Theft Orchestra – Theatre is Evil




Well, I have been getting non stop kickstarter updates from Amanda in regards to the progress of the tour and art and boobies and stuff so I have been very excited about the release of the full album. I had the opportunity to watch the music video for “Want It Back” and hoped that the album would kick my metaphorical dick off.




Introspective and kind of meh.


After Listening:


My metaphorical dick has been kicked. The album is incredibly well produced and thought out. There were surprises in songs when I thought I was going to be hearing something and heard something else.


I’m going to pull from my old review of earlier Palmer werks (because I’m lazy and admittedly a little drunk [This is a double-edged sword as I now want to make out with Amanda Palmer {.. again…}]) “Dresden Dolls/Amanda Palmer tends to be a very polarizing force when you are first being exposed to the tracks. Regardless of how you feel about the delivery of the words, Palmer is a wordsmith. She is a smith of words. Her piano is her anvil.”


As much as I miss Viglione on this album, I know that this is a completely different beast from the Dresden Dolls. If you are a nerd (like I am), think of it as “Amanda Palmer’s Monster Manual”. The addition of the Grand Theft Orchestra players Jherek Bischoff, Chad Raines, and Michael McQuilken is absolutely lovely. Oh! And when I heard the last name “Raines” I assumed that the invisible man procreated. Sorry darlin’. I bet you get that a lot. But… you’re Australian and I totally have a crazy girl boner for that fucking continent (Fuck… I’m sorry, Mom and Dad. I should have warned you earlier to not read this.)


Enough! Review time!


Favorite Tracks:


Want It Back – EVERY time I hear this song I assume that I’m about to hear song crazy techno remix of an already remixed J-Pop song, then it breaks to the piano and Amanda and grows to a song that (to me) is vaguely reminiscent at points of early R.E.M. and, for some strange reason, some of her syllabic extensions remind me of Tears for Fears and A-Ha.


Grown Man Cry – This song made me both laugh and realize that I have similar tendencies as “those girls” that is being referred to.


A Grand Theft Intermission – Honestly, the initial riff had me thinking of the Reigning Monarchs surf punk instrumentals. I loves me some Reigning Monarch. The intermission, however, felt like a matador and an operatic diva were battling to the death over a single rose. It is amazing the amount of imagery you can get from instrumentals.


The Bed Song – I should have actually heard this many months ago. My friend (Elfie) sent this to me, saying “OH EM GEE ALI LISTEN! DIS IS Y I CHIP IN TO MANDAPAHMR KICKSTARDER” (yes, I hear my friends as LOLCats, which as I think about it is probably an enormous insult.Elfie/Jackie is one of the most brilliant people I know). I, of course, went “that’s awesome” and didn’t listen (because I’m an asshole and forget to do things and was responding from my phone at work and didn’t have my headset). Last night, I listened to this song and cried for two hours. I didn’t mean to keep track of the time. I simply sent a message to a friend who I worried was going to end up this way including the lyrics and a youtube clip, so I have a time stamp from the moment I started panicking and crying. That is not a bad review in the least. I recognize that the experiences listed in the song are those that I do not want to experience, however, the song painted a picture so real it crippled me. THAT IS FUCKING ART, YO!


(OH! BTW!!!!! If someone can get me a copy of the Bed Song Book [as offered in the Kickstarter package], I will get an Amanda Palmer lyric tattooed in a half circle DIRECTLY under my breast if you send it to me [AND I WILL Instagram the shit out of it too]. Lyric is negotiable. I do get final say as it’s my flesh, but it will be an AFP lyric.)


Least Favorite Tracks:


If I were to pick something, it would be Smile (Pictures or It Didn’t Happen). While it is my least favorite of the moment, I am sure that listening to it over and over again it will endear itself to me. Amanda’s voice has a tendency of doing that. Her diction is crisp and her phrasing is deliberate.


Overall (1-5 stars): 5


Amanda Palmer and Kickstarter took my $5 and gave me an emotional rollercoaster that I am eager to ride over and over and over again.


OH! And because I couldn’t donate much but got the $5 Deluxe Digital Download version, I still got a bunch of art and videos and B-Sides, so neener-neener.


* I love yams like I love my mom

Casey and I talk about the Elephant Show.

I love finding random conversations with people that are endlessly entertaining.
Casey: I love you in the morning and in the afternoon….I love you in the evening and underneath the moon. fyi.
Ali: Boop boo bee doo! Sharon Lois & Bram’s Elephant Show (1986 close #1)
Casey: that elephant is so high.
Ali: Canadians.
Casey: is that typical of the canadian elephant?
Casey: also, was that dude like, doing both of them?
Ali: I really want to interview Sharon, Lois and Bram.
Casey: Let’s find them
Ali: That was quick. Do they live in your basement?
Casey: ‎…
Ali: DON’T TELL ME! I want to say that I knew nothing when they find them elephant bones!
Casey: you’re in too deep. no turning back now. I bet you can hear their screams in your sleep. I know I can.
Ali: I have to actually sleep to hear them there.
Casey: that’s fair.
Ali: but when I do, yes… I do hear them screaming.


You should do yourself a favor and follow Casey on Twitter (and me too!)

I Got Dumped

Now I bet you’re thinking “But Ali, I didn’t think you were dating anyone.” And you would be correct. So I was a bit blindsided today when a long-time friend called me and told me that she was having a hard time with the direction she felt her life was going in. She mentioned that friends were moving away, friends were getting married, and friends were having babies. She fell into an introspective mindset where she came to the decision that she needed to spend more time with God – learning more about Him, reading the Bible, thinking about Him… Dedicating all of her free time to her faith.

She said that she didn’t want to find herself resenting the people she surrounded herself with for their life choices and also for the history that she shared with them. She felt guilty and shameless of some of the decisions of her past, and associated the friends from that time period with that guilt and shame. She didn’t want to be alone and friendless – so she decided to break ties with her friends.

First off, I know that some of my readers are going to be angry for me. Truthfully? I don’t want you to be mad at her. Honestly, what kind of person would I be if I didn’t accept that she needed to be alone?

Her: “I just wanted to let you know that I’m going to need some time away from you.”

Me: “… NO!”

See? That wouldn’t work. I’m not the type of person that will force someone to be my friend. I think that everyone is welcome to their opinions, and I can love them even if they DO have differing values/opinions/structure than me. In fact, I have found that some of my most stimulating conversations have been with an articulate friend who has a differing opinion.

Am I hurt? Yes. There really is no way around that. It would do both of us (and our decade-long friendship) disservice to lie about feeling a little hollow. She has been a part of my life during a lot of hard times – and I certainly hope that is a reciprocal feeling.  We have had our differences in the past, but we had always been able to talk about things… at least I thought we did. There were certain topics that I shied away from because I typically do that with everyone. (I don’t talk about politics or religion.)

Am I worried? Absolutely. I am so terrified that she is going to experience an upset so jarring and painful and she won’t think she can call me. I worry that she won’t find someone to confide in, be it a therapist or another friend she makes that she considers less morally ambiguous than I am.

PLEASE NOTE – I fully acknowledge that my morals are skewed. Whether I am completely bankrupt is a matter of debate, but she did admit that we don’t share some of her core values. I believe that we were both guilty of being judgmental. It was rarely spoken, but it was there. It always is with everyone, and if someone says that they don’t judge, they are a friggin liar. They DO judge, they just don’t comment.

I guess when I was hoping for some sort of artistic inspiration for writing, this phone call wasn’t something that I was expecting. I’ve also been incredibly self-involved as of late. I haven’t posted much because… I’ve just been meh. I still keep waiting for the panic attacks to happen, but I haven’t had one since I left my previous employer.

That being said, I have been crying on and off for the majority of the day. I have so many things here that remind me of her. Pictures, toys, gifts, things that bring back memories. I just looked to my right and in five seconds I was able to locate ten things that made me think of her. I remember trips we took together. The friends we made together. The parties, the bonfires, swimming, fighting, arguing, singing, laughing, confiding. The support, the tears, the patience, the changes, the various stages in our friendship.

Do I regret any of it? Not for one moment.

So, as much as this is a goodbye… This is also a thank you.

Thank you for caring about me when I couldn’t be bothered to care about myself.

I love you, and if I never hear from you again… Please know that I wish you nothing but happiness.


Speaking of happiness, I posted on Facebook earlier today a request for people to share videos that never failed to make them laugh (because I really needed it).

Here’s a playlist of all of the suggestions.