It's not every day that one gets to see a couple of fantastic musicians, along with the world's only pair of conjoined musical twins. That's why I jumped at the chance to see Sxip Shirey, Jason Webley, Amanda (Fuckin') Palmer, and Evelyn and Evelyn Neville.
The original plan was to see them on Saturday, but plans got switched around and turned inside out as they tend to, so I ended up traveling into the city via train (which I haven't done in ages) to see them with my friend Elliot. I got in about two and a half hours before the doors opened, so I waited outside the theater with another concert-goer who traveled from England (but not just to see the show) named Gareth. He was a cool chap. During this time (around 4:15/4:30 or thereabouts), I saw Sxip approaching and asked if he wouldn't mind signing the joker card from the Evelyn Evelyn card deck, as he was on it. He scribbled his Sxip scribble on it, I shook his hand, and told him that I was quite excited for the show.
Needless to say ... it was fuggin' amazing.
- Sxip: Sxip started off by coming on stage, introducing himself, and talking about his neighborhood, segueing into his first song "I Live In New York City". It was loud, full of energy, and ... fun! Now, mind you, I hadn't heard any of Sxip's stuff before coming to the show, but I was sold. He followed that up by asking for a volunteer/assistant from the audience with "a slight amount of musical talent" and someone who was preferable close to the stage. I raised my hand and walked up to the stage and Sxip gave me two bells and instructions on what to do with them ("Come up to the stage when I give you a nod at the bridge and ring them as so. And don't ring them ironically.") So I helped Sxip on "Rain on the Roses". And he ended his set with "Istanbul".
- The Sisters: Sxip brought them on with two rounds of applause, as they were shy, and after giving a brief introduction about the Twins, with a bit of MC-like embellishing and such, the *cough* Twins ran through "Evelyn Evelyn", "Have You Seen My Sister Evelyn?", and "The Tragic Events of September, Part I" on the keyboard (with a bit of help from Hayley and Jeri on the light board for the puppetry of "Tragic Events". Evelyn (the more square-jawed one) was forcefully strapped into the accordion for "Chicken Man", during which the slightly more petite Evelyn started going all Animal on the cymbal and snare. Sxip and the tour manager cowered in fear beside her with a Twix bar to calm her down. After some devouring of the Twix, the Twins performed "You Only Want Me 'Cause You Want My Sister". This was followed by a bit of Two-Headed Oracle (or The Chalice of Knowledge or Ask Evelyn Evelyn, if you prefer) and "Elephant Elephant". "Elephant Elephant" included a bit with kazoos, which the Sisters promptly spat out when the kazoo segment was finished. I grabbed one of the kazoos. Sxip proceeded to mention that the Twins were quite good with modern piano numbers. They started with "Chopsticks" before being corrected by Sxip. That was followed by a bit of "Linus and Lucy" ... which was followed by the start of "Bad Romance" ("Ra ra ra ra ra ga ga oh la la") ... which was followed by a humorous cover of "Lean on Me".
The Twins ended with "MySpace" (which included some head bobbing ... and iPhone/iPod lighters during the keyboard interlude). They were about to play one final song on the ukulele, which according to Sxip wasn't a real instrument, and Sxip went on talking about reviving Annie, but changing things around so it would be called Annie Annie and such ... until they shot him with a revolver in their purse (along with a handkerchief and the iPods/iPhones). They proceeded to end with "Love Will Tear Us Apart" on the ukulele, with some help from a mysterious third arm to hold the ukulele up ... and some assistance from the "dead' Sxip on the melodica. It was followed by a 10 minute intermission.
- Jason came on after the intermission, strapped on his accordion, and began a rousing rendition of "Dance While the Sky Crashes Down". Following "Dance", Jason instructed the audience on how to act like two large instrument sections: trombones and violins. This was for his next tune "There's Not a Step We Can Take That Brings Us Closer", as he didn't have an orchestra with him. "In This Light" followed with Jason on the guitar. Then, he moved back towards the curtain and knelt, finger picking intensely when all of a sudden, Amanda rushed out to intense cheers and applause from the crowd, and the two played a slightly jumpy version of "Icarus", as a line or two got messed up here and there.
- Jason left the stage after the song ended and Amanda started off her set. She started with a powerful rendition of "Astronaut", followed by "Missed Me". She then asked the audience for song requests and the roughly 200 person audience shouted out Dresden Dolls tunes and solo tunes. One person yelled out for "Freebird!" "Ask for "Freebird" again!" "Play "Freebird"!" Amanda proceeded to free the bird, so to speak. Amanda chose to go with "Mrs. O". That was followed by a brief discussion of her latest blog post on the power of Twitter and the announcement of her Radiohead cover album, out July 20th, which was followed by a cover of "High and Dry", "Do You Swear to Tell the Truth, The Whole Truth, and Nothing But the Truth, So Help Your Black Ass", "Electric Blanket" (with Sxip on a menacing set of bells and Jason on guitar), and ended with "Runs in the Family".
Probably half the audience made their way up to the merch table and crowded the area, waiting for the trio to arrive. During this time, I purchased Sxip's new CD Sonic New York and the tour shirt with a Victorian-esque picture of the Sisters on the front and the tour locations on the back. Since the purchase was $30, I received a free deck of Evelyn Evelyn playing cards. Amanda arrived and began serenading Cassandra, who was running the merch table, before striking up a rendition of "Creep" on her magical ukulele while walking through the crowd. At the end, Sxip assisted from the stage on the marble in the glass bowl. The fans then descended on Amanda and Jason for autographs and such. I managed to get Jason to scribble on my ticket stub and I got 6 scribbles from Amanda on a sheet of paper for some friends, as well as an Amanda scribble on my ticket stub. And I gave her a hug. ... Because I could.
I descended with Elliot to find Sxip ready to make his way up. I requested a scribble on his CD and he scribbled on the outside (because that's where he likes to sign CDs) and on the inside (at my request). Before skedaddling, I gave him a hug, too. And then Elliot and I made our way back to the PATH station the next block over. After a little mishap, we made our way back to the train station in Hoboken and made our way home. Quite a satisfying solution to a fantastic evening.