Imagine Marlene Dietrich at Burning Man. That's what singer/pianist Amanda Palmer and drummer Brian Viglione deliver with the Dresden Dolls, who are touring in promotion of No, Virginia, their third studio album. This compilation of previously unreleased tracks, as well as newly-written material, is a sequel to Yes, Virginia (2006) and strikes a characteristic, uncanny balance between dark humor and poignancy. In songs such as "Lonesome Organist Rapes Page Turner," Palmer's lyrics dance gleefully around wicked subject matter, in keeping with the band's theatrically eerie persona.
Palmer is freshly recovered from vocal surgery, and, according to her MySpace blog, now brandishes "a shiny new voice." As always, the punk cabaret duo endorses a do-it-yourself initiative for fans who want to contribute to the concert spectacle — the so-called Dresden Dolls Brigade — but they will have to contend with a full regiment of supporting acts, including a seven-piece troupe of living dolls, a puppeteer and a female circus ringmaster who works the crowd into a big-top razzmatazz. And then there's a more conventional rival in teenaged Seattle band Smoosh, another piano-drummer combo, who open the show.