Last week, I experienced two amazing concerts within days of each other. Fiona “Mary Jane Baked” Apple and Amanda Fucking Palmer. Two very different and not-so different musicians/writers/women. Let’s start with…
Album: The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do
My Song of the Moment: Hot Knife
Dear god. I want the woman’s arms. Lean, ripped, and ready to rip throats.
I saw Fiona Apple at the Ikeda Theatre in Mesa. A great venue full of wine and elderly lady ushers with razor sharp fingernails. It was a grand night.
Some observations: Apple is a true, true musician. She’s a proper artist. I like to imagine Ms. Apple drinking gin, sitting sullen in her studio, pouring her heart and soul onto a pad of paper. Or maybe she just belts out a tune. I don’t know; do I look like a mind reader, people? Compared to her, I’m some sort of hack. Drinking cheap, terrible wine as I harass people on Twitter with one hand, while slopping down some sort of cogent words with the other. HERP DERP PURPLE?
But seriously. She is a work of art. She feels her words. Listening to her music on CD, sure, I get the lyrics. I hear her pain. Yet, in person…eavesdropping on her velvety, angry voice, seemed almost intrusive. It was so personal, I felt like I should have bought her dinner afterwards; maybe tossed in a handy or something.
And the other thing –the audience can go take a flying leap. She wasn’t there to talk to us. We were the voyeurs. She danced and gyrated and lived in her magical brain. For one night, I wanted to be her. I wanted those crazies. Oh, god, what I could do with those.
It was surreal seeing this concert. Watching it with a best friend since childhood, both of us loving Fiona, and now seeing her in our 30’s…I kinda wept (also out of depression that I’m nearly 30). And my friend and I both agreed: Fiona doesn’t live for her audience. In my opinion, we’re just something her genius has to suffer through. She barely tossed us a grunt until the end when she uttered something vaguely resembling this:
Fiona Apple: “I only have two things to say, Phoenix. One – You know, I always thought you got paid when you contributed a song to a movie soundtrack. But fuck the labels! They screw you out of your paycheck. Two – For all those small titted women out there who hate padded bras, you know what I do with my bra pads? Yeah. I tape them to the tips of my shoes. Ok. Got that? Now here’s my last song, bitches.”
And yep. Last song. Done. No one even attempted to clap for an encore. Because she’s Fiona Apple and fuck you that’s why.
Album: Theatre is Evil
My Song of the Moment: Lost
Then, on the opposite wavelength is the gift that is Amanda Palmer. Can you tell I have a huge lady boner right now?
First of all, let’s not even talk about how she is a fan’s dream, a marketing wonder and an incredible performer. She left her label. Started a Kickstarter project and made 1.2 million dollars to fund her record and tour. Watch this video and tell me this isn’t genius.
She interacts on twitter with her 677K followers (I’ve been retweeted, woot!). She networks with fans – asking musicians in each city to play in the band (don’t even get me started on the controversy because I’m on her side).
She’s good at it. She’s honest about it. Hell, she’s married to Neil Gaiman. Double the lady boner, m’dears.
She loves her fans. And they love her. We’re human and she’s awesome. We all feed on the instant gratification and bonding that is Amanda Palmer.
Having no one to attend this concert with (Crazy, right?!) I bribed a friend with beer and wonderful company to attend.
Just kidding – I actually threatened her at knife point, but that’s another story for my prison monologues.
The Crescent Ballroom in Phoenix was pretty awesome. Intimate. Fun. It was a place I’ll definitively catch a musical act at again.
And despite the fact that this concert didn’t end well (I had crippling stomach pains and had to leave in the middle of “Trout Heart Replica”) it was still wonderful.
Amanda Palmer introduced personally each opening act. She interacted, tweeted, hid in the balcony, and played a set where she ran through the crowd, chasing her guitarist. She trusts her fans. No one mauled her. We were polite.
Concerts make me tear up. Honest. I only go to concerts where I feel passion for the musician. I love the feeling of camaraderie and intimacy that goes on. The Crescent Ballroom was such a place. Amanda Palmer was the act. Despite so many different people – I saw a drag queen, a woman wearing something resembling a Renaissance costume, a 60 year-old man, and me in my sultry Target flip flops and Wonder Woman cuff – everyone could have sang Kumbaya and packed a bong together. We were all there together.
People were kind. People were friendly. The woman behind me, wearing super shiny red glittery eye shadow, complimented the fact that I had memorized all of the lyrics (I KNOW RIGHT? SWOON). She wanted to dance. And believe me, I’m a dancer. But on this night. I was sick. God damn, it pains me so. And when I was doubled over, she touched my back and offered me her water. Kindness of strangers. I want to find her and thank her because that made my night. And maybe I’m a sap that it makes me all warm and fuzzy inside but WHY CAN’T THE WORLD ALWAYS BE LIKE THIS?
Dimming the lights, Amanda read from something called “The Box”, where before the show they asked anyone who wanted to drop in their most personal secrets. Sure we got things like, “My dog watched me masturbating” and “I like to poop alot.” I swear the last one wasn’t mine.
But then we also got these:
“My mother choked me when I was 14.”
“I almost gave up my unborn daughter because he asked me to. I didn’t. I gave him up.”
“It took almost killing myself to completely feel loneliness.”
Yeah. Behind me the woman was sobbing and I was tearing up too.
It really was a beautiful night. Except for the unglamorous gassy cramps. I blame it on the PBR.
In the end, it was two different musicians. Two great experiences. At Fiona Apple, I felt such awe and wonder and envy at this singer/songwriter…at Amanda Palmer, I felt peace and kindness and love. I appreciate their music and I appreciate these great women for making me want to become a better writer and artist.