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September 18, 2006 | by  | in Music |
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The Dresden Dolls with Grayson Gilmour, The Red Paintings, Jason Webley

I’m going to have to apologise to Mr Webley if I’ve got his name wrong. He did shout it out quite a few times, but we missed the beginning of his manic set of songs, stories and severe gurning. Coming across as a sort of acoustic Andrew WK in terms of enthusiasm, he even pulled out an accordion for a few numbers. It was great fun (indeed, how can you argue with a tune called the ‘Drinking Song’?) and though sadly the bar was only half full at this point, his foot-stomping intensity set the theme that would run through the rest of the acts.

Australian art-rockers the Red Paintings are known for their gimmicky/pretentious concerts. buy cialis online They’ve previously utilised aliens, Kubuki costumes, robot-themed tours along with human, and more traditional canvasses being painted during their sets. Undoubtedly visually striking, with the aforementioned Japanese costumes and facepaint on the violinist and cellist, lead madman Trash McSweeney seemed for all the world like he’d stepped out of Coldplay. The straight guy at the centre of a circus. That is, until their etherial hullabaloo started to churn and he started screaming with the other-worldly passion of a street-preacher. Colour me impressed, though one couldn’t hazard a guess at the meaning of it all.

Grayson Gilmour of local utopian punk band So So Modern played a set that left me cold. An amazingly talented guy and an experienced songwriter (he was selfreleasing material back buy essay online cheap when he was in high school), his music shares its sense of the offbeat with the Dresden Dolls and is as complex as any Red Paintings tune, but I don’t get the same sense of personal risk. I like my artists tortured and gasping. Which is less of a criticism of Grayson and more one of myself really. Everyone else seemed to be enjoying themselves, so chalk it up to my ridiculous pose of iconoclasm.

Listening to the Dresden Dolls albums didn’t really prepare for their live show, perhaps the background thought that they were ‘just’ a piano and drums duo conjured up dainty keys and minimalist drumming a-la Meg White. Opening with ‘Sex Changes’ the Dolls were punishing, visceral and endlessly fascinating. Perhaps it’s easy to avoid the spotlight in a larger band, but pared down to two, the dynamic between pianist/singer Amanda Palmer and skinsman Brian Viglione was captivating in that it didn’t seem like the music was directed outward in the direction of the audience, but bouncing between them. The crowd captured inside every grimace, glance and playful mugging to accompany the deeply black humoured songs that they dub Brechtian Punk Caberet. They covered Black Sabbath’s ‘War Pigs’, and while unlike at the previous Auckland gig, where a bogan fan came onstage to sing the gaps in Amanda’s memory, I suspect that everyone in the audience felt something akin to participation in something special.

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