Amanda Palmer + Jason Webley

Music seen at SPACE Gallery, November 24, 2007
By CHRISTOPHER GRAY  |  November 28, 2007

About 200 people gathered at SPACE Gallery on Saturday night, paying a Dedication Necessary $12 to see one half of a duo you aren’t likely to ever hear on mainstream radio (and, for full disclosure’s sake, I have never heard at all). Of those 200, I knew one. What I’m trying to get at is that Boston’s Dresden Dolls are a big-league cult duo, Amanda Palmer is their sorceress, and her fans come out from all kinds of woodwork to see her.

I opened the door, pretty much on time (as Portland concerts go), to raucous cheers and hollers. Opener Jason Webley was already a third done with his set of accordion drinking songs. In good-natured brown top-hat, brown vest and with what’s essentially a Satan goatee with a matted-down handlebar mustache, Webley controlled the audience. He told funny jokes, mandated mildly complicated audience sing-a-longs, had everyone stick their index fingers in the air and spin around twelve times (“cheapest way to get wasted,” he says), and played accordion-driven drinking songs sung with a precise mix of fury and brio. Webley’s set — accompanied by Palmer for a couple of songs (they pretend their side project, Evelyn Evelyn, consists of Siamese-twin friends of theirs, to riotous effect) — was the energetic highlight of the show, but it scarcely mattered to Palmer and the audience: he just set a high pedestal for her to rest upon.

As for her — dressed down relative to DD standards, in cute white shirt, amazingly complicated hair styling, and black dots centering her bottom eyelids — she sang about a dozen really smart and open relationship songs, played on a keyboard that broke a little more with every song (seven bum notes by set’s end). On occasion, she’d pop open a question box from the merch table and answer questions from her fans. She owned them, and she sold me. I’ve got a new old band to check out.

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