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Controversial Musician Prepares for Local Debut

Published: August 4, 2009 (Issue # 1497)



  • Palmers songs create controversy, with some media refusing to play them.
    Photo: Beth Hommel

Amanda Palmer, who came to fame as the frontwoman of The Dresden Dolls, Bostons self-described Brechtian cabaret-punk band, does not fit in with todays declining and increasingly boring music industry. The big-voiced singer, who also plays piano, harmonica and ukulele and is in town this week for a joint concert with Jason Webley, is set to crush barriers, twist meanings, challenge audiences and maybe provoke thought, although she insists that her approach to songwriting is generally spontaneous.

I never know; I write what comes into my head and its always different, Palmer said in an email on Sunday.

Lately Ive been writing weird swirly pop songs, but that always changes. It can depend on what Im hearing outside.

But Palmer, who defies categorizing as an artist, is notorious for either taking unlikely subjects for her songs, which are normally permeated with dark irony, or dealing with them in unlikely ways. Astronaut, the opening track on her first solo album Who Killed Amanda Palmer? (a reference to Twin Peaks,) is an ode to a spaceman crashing in the name of science. Just my luck they found your upper half / its a very nice reminder, goes the song.

In Strength Through Music, which refers to the Columbine High School massacre, a character hangs his Walkman around his neck before embarking on a killing spree in order to have a soundtrack to the murders he is going to commit. It is so simple / the way they fall / no bang or whimper / no sound at all, she sings in the song.

But to her surprise, it was the song Oasis that caused the biggest controversy in the U.K. earlier this year, where many broadcasting media including MTV U.K. and NME TV refused to play it. (BBC6 did play it, however.)

Oasis is a catchy pop song sung from the perspective of a girl who goes through a date rape and abortion, but is overjoyed, because when she returns home, there is a signed photograph of the British band Oasis in her mailbox. Palmer famously described herself as pro-choice but anti-stupid when commenting on the song.

It was shunned in the U.K. because of the content, Palmer said in her email.

The radio and video outlets thought I was making light of rape and abortion. Some people do not understand irony and sacrcasm as a healing tool.

Another controversy arose when her record label, Roadrunner Records, thought her solo album, produced by singer-songwriter Ben Folds (who also played on the record) and released in September, was not commercial enough and chose not to invest in promoting it.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Thursday, July 31


Develop your leadership abilities during a lecture by famous Russian author and coach Radislav Gandapas. The event starts at 9 a.m. at 5 Lodeinopolskaya Ulitsa. The price for entry is 20,500 rubles ($570).


Relax and enjoy a Parisian atmosphere with some romantic and laidback jazz tunes during the Night of French Music at Lenny Jam Cafe, 63 Ligovsky Prospekt. The entrance fee is 250 rubles ($7).


The Womens Business Club is hosting a Beauty Brunch where participants are invited to discuss the latest news in the beauty industry and listen to lectures by professional stylists in the business.



Friday, Aug. 1


Bikers from all around the world will gather to take part in a parade, extreme shows and rock concerts during the International Biker Festival that revs its engines today and runs through Aug. 3 near Olgino Hotel, 4/2 Primorskogo Shosse.


The Peter and Paul Fortress will be turned into an open-air cinema today and tomorrow as part of the 5th International Short and Animation Film Festival. A huge screen across the fortress walls will air short films non-stop with board games, photo sessions and other activities also on offer for visitors. For more information, visit www.opencinemafest.ru



Saturday, Aug. 2


Gatchina Palace Park Museum will host its second annual Night of Light, an impressive audio-visual show across the night sky. Tickets are 600 rubles ($16).


If graphic design is more your thing then check out Illustration Day, where you will be able to visit an exhibition, attend lectures by professionals and even show experts some of your own work. The event starts at noon at Zona Deystvia, 73 Ligovsky Prospekt. The entrance fee is 350 rubles ($10).



Sunday, Aug. 3


History lovers shouldnt miss the chance to see reenactments of World War I battles in Pushkin at noon. Besides exciting war scenes, visitors can enjoy live music, historical costumes, an equestrian show and a fancy-dress parade starting from the Moscow gates.


Garage Sale, the popular and growing flea market where nothing is priced over 500 rubles ($14.11), starts today at noon in Loft-Project Etagi, 74 Ligovsky Prospekt. Be sure to get in early to score a bargain. Entry costs 50 rubles ($1.40)



Monday, Aug. 4


Continue the working week with a calm and steady mind with a free yoga lesson at 7 p.m. in the Bukvoyed store at 23A Vladimirsky Prospekt.



Tuesday, Aug. 5


Visit The Romanov Dynasty doll exhibition today, where more than fifty porcelain dolls depicting Russian rulers, and made by Olina Ventzel, will be on show. The exhibition continues through Aug. 31 in Sheremetyev Palace, 34 Fontanka Naberezhnaya.



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