Concerts

Last Night: Amanda Palmer & the Grand Theft Orchestra at Fitzgerald's

Amanda Palmer & the Grand Theft Orchestra Fitzgerald's September 18, 2012

Rewind: Crowdsourcing or Exploitation? Amanda Palmer's Search For Volunteer Musicians

The Internet is at times simply a giant game of telephone. Something happens, someone comments on it, someone comments on the comment, and so on and so forth. Little things become big things and things that don't matter somehow become the only things that do.

Amanda Palmer decided to conduct an experiment in crowdsourcing musicians. Some musicians consider their time and skills to be worth more than beer and merch. Editors saw the chance for some great headlines. And that's how you get from a blog post by Amanda Palmer to a blog post titled "Who Killed Amanda Palmer's Career?"

Since I've written my own blog on the subject it made sense that I go check out her live show to see if a) see if she had anything new to say about the controversy; and b) check out her Houston-based volunteers.

Those rumors about the end of her career? If Tuesday night's crowd was any indication, those rumors have been greatly exaggerated.

This tour has only been going for about a week now, and watching Palmer and her Grand Theft Orchestra perform felt like checking out a play that was still in rehearsals. While she has interesting ideas on how to present the songs those ideas haven't been fully realized.

At the merch table there, was a box for audience members to leave a note about something bad that had happened to them in their room. Palmer read those cards during the show, recording the bit on her phone so she could play back the audio later in the set. This was an interesting idea but didn't quite work it was hard to hear the audio over the music and her singing.

When she got away from the big ideas and focused on the music itself, the show shined. Because of the theatrical nature of her music she'll always be something of an acquired taste, but it's hard to deny her ability to write a catchy song.

As for the elephant in the room, Palmer did in fact say a few words on volunteerprofessionalishmusician-gate. I don't have a complete transcript with me, but the general thrust of it was that they had been able to pay some of the musicians at other shows and that she appreciates any musicians in the crowd who showed up.

The crowd seemed firmly behind her and how she's handled things, which I imagine will blow the minds of the people who thought this was going to somehow ruin her.

KEEP THE HOUSTON PRESS FREE... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Cory Garcia is a Contributing Editor for the Houston Press. He once won an award for his writing, but he doesn't like to brag about it. If you're reading this sentence, odds are good it's because he wrote a concert review you don't like or he wanted to talk pro wrestling.
Contact: Cory Garcia