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making space for the mess…PLUS: NEW geraldton gig & sydney NINJA GIG!

quick, before the heavy shit…
and it’s FREE!
sunday february 6th
L’attitude 28
with special guest KIM BOEKBINDER!

doors at 6:30, show soon after, ages 18+ (sorry to those wishing for it to be “all ages”)
RSVP/tell your friends HERE on facebook, and please tweet it to holy hell. the more, the merrier.


and YES. as promised, there will be a NINJA GIG for the people of sydney at CARRIAGEWORKS this SATURDAY, the 29th.
it’s ALL AGES.
it’s also FREE.
it’s at 7:30.
bring friends, food, flowers and love but do not bring any fucking VB or any more vegemite sandwiches…because really, what the fuck am i going to do with a vegemite sandwich?
photo by mandy hall (all other blog-photos by her as well, unless otherwise noted)

the jane austen argument will likely be there, as will the amazing kim boekbinder.

come come come.
and spread the word (on twitter, facebook, by carrier pigeon, WHATEVER).

the venue are letting us squat there, so it’s not as free and loose as a ninja gig on a beach, but it should be pretty fucking rad.


and now that we’ve got those info-blasts out of the way…

sydney. thank you.
to all the people who came to the opera house show….
it was completely surreal.

i had a really hard night. i met a ton of you in the signing line after the show, and i’m glad you stuck around.
i hugged many of you, and i think i needed it more than you did.

it was a tough show for me. everybody seemed to love it. that made it even harder.

how do i explain this?
i feel like i’ve made a new personal art form out of manic improvisation.

i played the fucking sydney opera house for about 2,000 people.
and went on stage with almost no plan, and what plan i had, i managed to totally trash by accidentally skipping 6 songs ahead in the setlist, baffling the back-up band, and doing the entire show out of order, losing songs left and right…all after hitting stage 15 minutes late due to the entire show schedule sliding off course. this is a keeling ship i’m used to riding on.

the upshoot? i almost never regret things. but god, i regretted that i didn’t get to close my show with “australia” last night, since i lopped it off the set list by accident. also left on the cutting room floor of the sydney opera house fiasco was a beautiful version of “the flowers” that i was going to cover with the jane austen argument, and much more significantly “formidable marinade” with the full band of Mikelangelo and The Black Sea Gentlemen, one of the things we actually DID know we could play. all in all: a completely random fiasco, a classic AFP wonderfully entertaining fuckshow.

who else figures shit out on the fly in a venue like that. does ANYBODY?

i saw coco rosie the night before (i only watched a few songs). they were definitely sticking to their setlist.
jimmy buffet was on the night before that. i’m SURE jimmy had a plan.

i would have traded those two dresden dolls songs and that tom waits cover in a second if i’d had my head about.

upside down during “missed me”:

on the upside, we barbecued with fake dry ice on the opera house stage, and we made a huge fancy venue feel like a sloppy nightclub of drunkards, as you can see in this pic from during “MAP OF TASMANIA”:
we’ve got the rapping kim boekbinder, holly austin (a beatboxer from sydney), jane austen argument, and, well, everybody…

this, everyone seemed to feel, was an accomplishment in and of itself.

we played some beautiful music.
we had a bogans versus artfags theme that ran through the entire night. eric brought a boombox onstage (thanks ian!) so we could tune into the triple j hottest 100 #1 song, AND he made surpirse vegemite sandwiches.

the opening bands were sublime.

tom and jen from jane austen argument pretty completely SLAYED the crowd…


mikelangelo and the black sea gentlemen mopped up the blood in balkan style.
here’s me & mikelangelo, from later in the show:

i feel so honored to be around such talented fucking people.

OH, and we had GOGO DANCERS…
me & go girl gadget go go during “oasis”:

i mean…the show was actually pretty fucking incredible when i think about it.

neil wrote a brand new poem about Megafauna, which he finished at 3 pm the day of the show. it was incredible.
he read from Who Killed Amanda Palmer, and read me a love poem.
the man is, as he proudly repeated to me in the signing line after a fan christened him, amazeballs.

but still…

after the show, i felt this really creeping awfulness.
i’d hit the stage unprepared. this i knew. i hated myself for pulling off the show.

marianne faithful said it best, in the song that sums up nights this this, “sliding though life on charm”:

is it such a sin i never ever tried too hard?

it’s true. people are sometimes so impressed by my ability to get on a stage that size whilst sticking to NO PLAN WHATSOEVER that it seems that my balancing act has become an art form in itself. i don’t know, sometimes, whether to be incredibly proud of this or to bury my head in shame. night before last, still hungover from the kind of PMS that plagues me particularly badly when i’m on the road and also hungover from the realization that being a wife and a rock star at the same time is not a skill i’ve not yet mastered, i sort of collapsed. i’ve never felt that strange after a gig.

i think i set a new level of amazement at myself for deciding what song to play literally 2 hours before the gig, and practicing then 15 minutes before hitting stage.

it worked.
at least it appeared to have worked.

i made myself feel better by writing a guilty confession to nick cave. it helped a little.

also, neil helped.
he held me late at night and i cataloged for him all the things i’m currently afraid of.
i love him more and more every day.


this all has been a running consideration since i stopped touring with the dresden dolls and started touring solo.
i was so absolutely punchdrunk with freedom for the first year of solo touring that i went completely off the wall with a sense of HOLY SHIT I OWN THIS STAGE AND CAN DO WHAT I WANT.
but the people i brought with me, like the actors in the danger ensemble (they had to have a setlist, for their costume changes, and i had to stick with it) and having a few extra musicians with me (like zoë and lyndon) helped to pin things into place. i wonder how much i want to be pinned. my whole life and schedule suffer this weird consideration: it’s the balance of non-scheduled, scheduled and overscheduled, non-planned, planned and over-planned. making a space for the madness but not letting the madness overtake the space.

sometimes i just think i’m sick of getting away with it.

and then sometimes i think that i’m too hard on myself: that the mess is the art, that i’m perfecting my own art of imperfection.
maybe this: if i can improvise my way through a gig at the fucking sydney opera house, i feel like it’s time to set my sights on what the fuck else i can do.

fuck’s sake.


i needed to rant that.

things may have been made ALL good by the ultimate tiara-gift i was given at the signing table…
photo by neil.

if you can’t read what it says due to the superhip app processing, it says BLOW JOB QUEEN. double reference points, i suppose, for liz phair AND amanda palmer lyrics.


p.s. a few more random pictures from the evening:

my name made out of VB boxes. amazing….

duetting with tom from jane austen argument:

meow meow phones in….

me, molesting people:

Back to Blog
  • Sophie

    I am LUSTING for your skirt

    • lentower

      @ times post war trade has a similiar skirt

  • Jason

    Being able to give an artist a hug after a show always seemed to me like such a catharsis from a fan’s perspective. I never thought about it working the same way vice-versa.

    With that said, *hugs*

  • TheotherSydney

    …My name is Sydney…I want a ninja gig….

  • fionavar

    thanks you for writing this. it was super useful to hear someone as successful as you lament on the fall-out of being gifted at getting by on the fly.

  • Lou

    Everyone screws up sometimes.. :) You probably do need to be a bit more organized, but hey.. tomorrow is another day.. Pet the sweaty stuff, don’t sweat the petty stuff :)

  • OhSum

    I was there on Wednesday and I was SO disappointed that you didn’t play Australia, and a couple of other favourites. I wasn’t sure that it was okay for me to feel disappointed at all, because hey, the show is not for ME. So thank you for writing this and kind of validating how I felt.
    Also, as a trained stage manager, I really struggled to cope with the disorganisation! But at the same time, your performances were so beautiful and flawless I couldn’t believe how you made it work.
    I so wish I could have stayed and given you a hug, too. But I was already almost late for the last train home to my babies. I’m glad you got the hugs you needed.

  • Trisha

    Wow, this post hit me on a really person level. I can totally relate to “sliding though life on charm.” It’s a skill I’ve … perfected? relied on to often? been blessed/cursed to be born with? I’m not sure, maybe all of the above? For fuck’s sake, I barely planned my wedding. The kind with lots of guests, and food, and months to plan. Yet it somehow was perfect, and had the feeling of cohesion and planning that it didn’t really.
    I guess that what I’m trying to say is that you’re not alone in living a charmed life. I’ve come to think of it is being extraordinarily lucky, and being loved by the universe. The ability to just wing it and have it turn out right seems directly proportional to the amount of love I give back to the universe, so how can it be anything other than a gift?

  • Nikki

    here’s the thing. you may bullshit sets, but i don’t think you bullshit performances. you may bullshit plans, but i don’t think you’re bullshitting life. there’s a difference between getting by on luck, and getting by on love. i think that the reason you’re able to do things like that is because you always put so much passion into whatever you’re doing. maybe that’s not it, but maybe it is — maybe the reason you can make it without “trying” is because you’re sincere. you never have to fake it, you never have to be scripted in order to convey what you want to convey.

    i mean, look at all the people that you touch through your art. that’s not just coincidence. there are performers that need to stick to plans, because without plans they wouldn’t know what to say or do. you’re not one of those performers, because what you’re saying and doing doesn’t come from a setlist, or an intricate plot — it comes from the fact that you believe in what you’re doing.

    that may have been way off; it could have nothing to do with any of this. but i think you should know, if somehow you don’t already, that we all love and support you, no matter how many plans you leave back on the floor of the sydney opera house. <3

    • Amanda Palmer

      “you may bullshit sets, but i don’t think you bullshit performances. you may bullshit plans, but i don’t think you’re bullshitting life.”

      thank you.

      • Nikki

        thank YOU. for everything. after what you and your music have gotten me through, the least i can do is try to understand.

  • Emily Eliza

    Three things:

    There are about 118,000 Australians in the UK. I think that’s a big enough figure to justify an Amanda Palmer Goes Down Under In Blighty show…yes?

    “sometimes i just think i’m sick of getting away with it.” I have a friend in Brisbane who I’ve heard say this a dozen times. You remind me of her.

    And yes, you can improvise your way through a gig at the fucking Sydney Opera House. Have you thought deeper about the reason for that? Beceause when I read that, my first thought was “Yes, Amanda, you can improvise your way through a gig at the Opera House. BUT…you can only do it because you had an audience that would let you do it.”

    Which isn’t a criticism at all and is said with deepest affection – the reason you had an audience that would let you do it is because you had an audience full of your fans, full of people who love and adore you for the precise reason that…you are the person who will do something like try and improvise their way through a gig at the Opera House. It’s kind of a virtous circle.

    We love you.

    • Chanin

      Yes, Amanda, you can improvise your way through a gig at the Opera House. BUT…you can only do it because you had an audience that would let you do it.” …. That is such a beautiful way to put it :)

  • lentower

    good you think about this stuff, but don’t overthink it

  • Emily Eliza

    ^virtuous, duh. Spelling fail.

  • Jann

    Catching the creative wave is a wild ride as you no doubt know. But when you are truly present in the moment then the right song for the moment comes and no amount of planning can anticipate this. Few artists are confident enough in their grasp of the moment to go on stage without a plan. BUT if this is your gift, embrace it and trust that the songs that need to be sung will work their way into your subconscious, emerge with your voice, and all will be well. Fuck the mess. Sending you a hug from far off Cleveland! xoxo

  • Sarah

    I love your music. I really really do. And I love somewhat shambolic, theatrical stage shows. But, the lack of preparation on Wednesday night showed. If I and 2000 of my closest friends are spending $80 of our hard earned on a show, we at least deserve a little rehearsal.

    • Amanda Palmer

      thank you.

      you know, we did do a LITTLE rehearsal. the tragedy is that our most well-rehearsed songs – the ones i knew were nailable, were the ones cut due to curfew (leeds united, formidable marinade, australia, etc).

      i think that was the painful part – that i exposed so much mess and before i could turn around and save it with the polished stuff, we got cut off. but THAT was a function of a lot of problems – too much talking, the set getting out of order, the technical problems, blal blah blah. but yes: your feelings and why i had my feelings.

  • angelica

    I love that you are so open in your toughts in this blog. Even if you feel like that, you should be so proud! You are fucking amazing Amanda!

  • Esmertina Bicklesnit

    Maybe five years from now you will be the picture of discipline and always play to your set list and never have to think, oh shit, I totally forgot to encore with Australia on the down under tour at the friggin Sydney Opera House.

    Or, maybe you will accept that that is not the person you want to be. It’s the person the little voice in your head says you SHOULD be.

    I totally relate to that sick to your stomach feeling you get when you think you’ve gotten away with winging something important. I think part of it is chemical — it’s your body processing all of that extra adrenaline, which makes you feel kinda shaky and ill, at the same time that your rational self is re-taking the reins and taking an inventory of what exactly happened when you were on auto-pilot, and whether there will need to be any damage control. I’ve felt this after important presentations and other public speaking events — everyone around me would be in high-five mode, and I would want to put my head between my knees to keep from throwing up. But if I recognize what it is and remind myself it will pass, it’s less scary to go through.

    The key thing is, it’s a talent. It’s a gift, to be able to make magic happen. You can choose to use your gifts or not … the downside of using it is that you will feel shaky and sick afterwards, you risk disappointing the fans who wanted to sing along to Australia, and you accelerate stageboy’s hair loss.

    But the upside is, you get to make spontaneous, fanfuckingtastic performances happen that would not happen any other way.

    There are fans who will be disappointed if they don’t see the songs they love, and fans who will be disappointed if they don’t get to be caught up in that Amanda magic. So it’s not really about what’s best for the fans, it’s about what’s healthiest for you, and what nourishes your spirit the most. And there’s no wrong answer. Just choose to be the person you want to be. I learned that from this great song I’ve become addicted to … ;)

  • Dragonsally

    If your Melbourne show is even a fraction as fantastic as the Opera House show sounds, I’ll be in heaven.
    I think Nikki said it perfectly….I love coming to your shows precisely because you really are live – I don’t feel like I’m seeing the same show you’ve done a million times, you love your fans and we love you and its all so fucking vibrant.

  • upyours

    Christ you guys are getting nauseating.

    • Sarah Hackett

      You’d do well to take heed to that list, upyours. Perhaps then you’d have less time to rant on the internet. While you might not have known Amanda without Neil, there are droves of people who’ve loved her art long before she was a Gaiman. Do you suppose we all just followed Neil on Twitter one day and decided, “Ohhhh, Neil likes this Palmer girl. I suppose I do as well!” ? Her art speaks for itself. It stands (with or without assistance) as a testament to her truth/beauty.

  • Eva Larumbe

    Nikki has already expressed my sentiment beautifully. I only hope you can find a moment to go somewhere quiet and listen to In My Mind, and remember that everything is actually ok.

    It’s easy to forget that a gig doesn’t have to go to exactly to plan, in order to go beautifully. It’s no mean feat having been able to pull an amazing show off despite the hiccups, and I hope you can switch off your inner critic enough to be really proud of yourself. You put on an roaring tour de force. Even if the show didn’t meet your idea of perfect, you have to know that it was wonderful nonetheless. It is always a moving experience to see you perform. You and your supporting artsists are all so talented. You have our understanding, our congratulations and our thanks for sharing the night with us.

  • upyours

    Seriously…I mean I wish you guys a happy marriage and life and all, but fuck…stop being so treacly sweet, please….I remember something I read in a story a long time ago….a mother said to her daughter, it’s just as easy to fall in love with a rich man as a poor man..and as many men as you have blown through, and WOMEN…well…are you sure you love HIM…or do you love what he can and has done for you and your career…cause I would not know who you are without him mentioning you, and I do love you as an artist, …but

    • Nathalie

      I dont think Amanda would have married the guy if she dident love him. She has worked hard for her shows, Her band and art. Its so typical when to artists hook up that the mass thinks “ooh she is after his fame, Money, and so on. Neil is Not responsable for amandas fame, She is.
      I think it,s good that she post this, Means she,s reflected and down to earth…Unlike most famous people.

      Comments like this are not nessesary and childish. If they want to work togetcher, Let them, The world need,s to se happy coupples .

      • upyours

        I never said she didn’t work hard. And there are alot of reasons people get married. Unfortunately even the people themselves don’t totally understand them…of course they believe it’s love, EVERYone believes it’s love, but no one would ever break up or get divorced if love was all that was involved. What I was saying is that she sounds like a fucking fourteen year old schoolgirl mooning in her diary and it’s getting, well, a little pukey to read. I think WKAP and “The Bed Song” are some of the finest most beautifully crafted songs I have ever heard, and she can talk about her music and craft as much as she wants but if all she’s gonna do is moon over her new relationship maybe she can start another blog called I Love Neil and spare us the sickly sweet bullshit.

      • upyours

        Two interesting post-scripts which no-one will ever read probably but…on the same day or close to, Neil published a link that asked: What were the 5 things you learned at Clarion and one of the first was: Find a life partner with money. Yeah. In other words, if you want to make art, in this case writing, find somebody rich who will take care of you while you do what you want to do. Would that not include what Amanda is doing? Why yes, it would. And the second post-script would be: Is English your SECOND language? If not, then yet another example of the breakdown of the American educational system. Find a textbook of the basics of spelling and puctuation, Love……or else stop typing with your feet.

        • Guest

          You know Neil Gaiman is a successful author right? I mean top ten bestseller lists, written film scripts etc. He doesn’t need Amanda Palmer’s money. jeez.

          • upyourstoo

            No moron…the list of 5 things I learned at Clarion says Find a life partner with money. Neil LINKED to it. He didn’t say it. And I clearly said that would include what she is doing, not him. jeez. Learn how to fucking read.

  • sbb

    sadly ater months of anticipation .. it was seriously disappointing. Reading the blog above shows why and explains why a lot of people around me left early (i almost did as well).

    you are an amazing performer, but that really just wasnt worth the time or money

  • sbb

    ps: the highlight was meow meow

  • Sharon Janesick

    I think you’re amazing.

  • J Rose

    Feelings of guilt usually come from fearing how other people will react, and fuck em if they don’t like that it is easy for you. I understand it is scary that it might not work but what if it doesn’t? And the fact that you are honest about it makes fans understand more… It’s exciting, it’s an experience, it’s art.
    As a new fan, I hope I get to see you in concert some day. If you make it to Helena, Montana, or theres about, I’ll sell my kidney to try and make it.

  • Lizz

    We silly people like to make things more difficult for ourselves than necessary, I think. When something comes to us naturally, or because of our intentions, we over-question it instead of just allowing it to ‘be’. I think on some strange level you have this process that you invoke this fabulous energy, and yet you question the outcome. The outcome can only be amazing, and awesome, because that is what you are. That is what we all are. We just need to believe in ourselves a bit more. :-)

  • jack shit

    hi amanda,

    i’m guessing you’ll be rehearsing yr ninja scenario like it was the opera house or something (and i know you’ve already been in) but if yr disposed towards popping into fbi and hanging loose on the way, please do.

    no need for on air action – though if you’ve a few tunes by other artists on a pod i’d love to hear them. we have no guests and will just be taking it easy – and carrieageworks is just down the road.

    either way, good luck. i’ve an espionage party to play and will miss you again otherwise it seems…

    chaos rains my love!


  • jack shit

    oh – we’ll be there from around half 2 til 6. on air from 3 til 5

  • # SisterWolf

    It’s hard to find the right balance between loving and hating yourself. It is a central conflict, like freedom vs security.

  • Rosie

    I really enjoyed the night, I only wished I heard more Amanda Palmer and less covers. The “Drover’s Boy” one was fantastic though – very appropriate and eye-opening for Australia Day.

    My girlfriend is definitely more used to the usual Opera House fare with strong set-lists and a structured performance, so I think she left feeling a bit confused, however she said her main criticism lay in the fact that she thought you were so powerful and stunning when you sang your own songs and it was a shame not to see you shine throughout the entire set. Personally, I love that you are so yourself and don’t pander to what’s expected of venues like the Opera House – I’ll fly the Amanda Flag regardless, especially when you’re so generous to your audiences with ninja gigs and your endless outpouring of love.

    • Jkjulz

      I agree. Too many covers.

  • musicsascha

    Nikki and Emily Eliza have got it right, I think:
    You are not Pink Floyd. I would expect perfection from them. Or from Dream Theater or Muse, for that matter.
    When I first listened to the very first chord of “Astronaut” I knew you would never be like that – in every good and bad aspect of that fact. It’s the kind of passion that would not allow a polished gig – just as I imagine gigs by Ben Folds and Tom Waits to be somewhat “raw” and , well, unpolished.
    And I am perfectly fine with it – I like both ways, as I can get perfectionist when I have to, but naturally I am chaotic.
    If there are aspects of the gig that you regret – learn from it, and next time change it. Nobody’s perfect.
    But to be honest: better a gig that is full of passion, of errors, of unforeseen moments, than the gig I saw a few months ago here in Berlin: the band was totally unmotivated, played the gig like coin operated toys (pun intended) – and the crowd instantly began to talk, because nobody cared anymore for what happened onstage. It was just impossible to connect.

    Btw: its the same with your blog: you will probably never write as well crafted as Neil does – still it is very, very entertaining and enriching to read it :-)

  • bby

    Okay I wasn’t there but unlike your solo performances, or that great onstage connection and familiarity with Brian, this gig had a lot of fellow performers who I think you owed to keep on track.
    It’s fantastic that you have a knack for improvisation but I’m not sure it’s a great thing to totally rely on. Sure, it’s better and more exciting than playing the exact same show the whole tour, but variation and exciting shit are totally plannable to keep the tour interesting. (while allowing yourself some room for improv and flexibility of course)

    This line was disheartening to me:
    “is it such a sin i never ever tried too hard?”
    you should try your bestest in everything you do! :(

    Your ability to save a show is great but it should be a fail-safe at most! No biggie but I don’t think you should let it happen again (going into a show with zero plans I mean).

  • Acacia

    Your strength always shows, Amanda.

  • R Rabin

    I had no idea of what to expect at an Amanda Palmer show. I’m a new fan, captured by Twitter, and while I own some albums I have no driving need to hear any one particular song performed so I cannot be disappointed by omissions. I’m also a bit old, so I don’t feel the need to Blow Smoke Up Amanda Palmer’s Bum.

    The show may not have gone as planned- it may not have been the tight, grown up, organised ideal- but it made me feel more as though you guys turned the Opera House into an intimate space where you were playing for friends. Intentional or not, it was a bit of magic, to me.

  • Victoria Goldenberg

    I think there’s room for both disciplined, planned concerts and the chaotic, one-of-a-kind ones. I think it’s just a matter of making sure the performance is the right one for the occasion.

  • Mason

    Firstly, the show looked spectacular.
    You’re in a unique position. Comparing yourself with performers like Jimmy Buffet is apples and, well, guava. Or dragon fruit. The idiosyncrasies that make you insecure are the things that make you Amanda Palmer and the reason you’re successful.
    I really regret playing the critic, so I hope this is taken as constructive rather than rude, but I think that the chaotic approach can come across as a little disrespectful to the people who come out to support you and see you perform. I can’t speak for this recent show, but I did see you a while back and felt a little cheated. I think it’s wonderful that you interact with the audience and manage an over-the-top stage persona while being so accessible. It’s a delicate balance I’m sure, but I would be lying if I said that I didn’t leave feeling a little turned off. I wasn’t sure if making it up as you went had left you lost, or if you just didn’t care enough about the audience to put something together. You didn’t lose me as a fan that night, but I was really happy to read this blog and know that you care about being an entertainer, not just an artist. I think that you’ve earned a lot of devoted fans over the years, but it shouldn’t mean that you don’t have to bother giving them your best because they’re going to eat up whatever you give them.
    So… if you’re feeling insecure, maybe it’s because you know you could be doing better and you could use it as motivation. Or maybe you’re overly critical and I saw you on a bad night.

    • Amanda Palmer

      i appreciate hearing things like this. i know it’s true, as much as my messiness also, evidenced by lots of comments here, seems to be beloved.
      i’ve struggled a lot with the balance. i KNOW there are shows when things just go too off the rails, i know those shows can turn people off. and i know that the opera house show felt like one of them, and that it hurts me more to go off the rails in a venue like that than it does in a bar of 150 people.

  • insignifikunt

    i wouldn’t have been pissed about how the night went anyway because i spent half the night laughing hysterically, and to see tom and jen on the opera house main fucking stage was just surreal, my smile was from ear to ear … but the fact it was called AMANDA PALMER GOES DOWN UNDER – An Australia Day Spectacular kind of implies that it is a mixture of a lot of stuff and not just sticking to a structured setlist. Wednesday night was a SPECTACULAR spectacular.

    life isn’t a setlist that we all stick to! Wednesday was life!

  • Ian Ronald

    Maybe I’m just still reeling from bumping into Neil and actually getting to spend time with you and talk to you, but I think the Opera House show was amazing. Yes it was a little messy, but it looked like it was MEANT to be! The spontaneity only served to add to the intimate nature of the gig, if you ask me. (Not as intimate as Friday’s gig, but that’s a whole other TOTALLY FUCKING MINDBLOWING story…)

    I was more than happy to have paid my money for that show – I feel I got much more than I expected. And, oh, I’m glad you liked the boombox. ;)

    You are you. You are not anyone else and don’t need to compare yourself to anyone else. We love you because you are YOU!

  • Mel

    Yes, you fucked up. Yes, we knew it. But here’s the thing: most of us didn’t care.

    I could use cliched words like amazing and incredible to describe the show on Wednesday night, but they do not do it justice. Not in the sense that I’m trying to bignote it and gush about it, but in the way that I simply grinned the whole way through.

    I grinned when I heard your new songs for the first time; I grinned when you cracked out Dolls and WKAP songs; I grinned when I finally realised you were playing Tom Waits; I grinned at the end of ‘Drover’s Boy’ because you made the mood solemn, but not sombre; and I grinned when you fucked up the set list.

    And you know why I grinned when you fucked it up? Because you were honest about it. You didn’t try to blame it on anyone else, or make up an excuse. You just came out and said, “Okay, I’ve stuffed something up here, and I’m going to try to fix it.” I appreciated that more than anything else you did that night.

    Amanda, on Wednesday night you made me smile in a way I haven’t in a very long time. While some people felt they didn’t get their $80 worth, in retrospect, I would have paid double that for what you did for me.

    One of the girls with the doll facepaint.

  • fdw

    It was shambolic and messy and fun and moving. You smiled a very sad smile at me as you signed for us and your husband drew a graveyard in our young son’s book. You made our night and he made our son’s morning.

  • MichelleBourke

    “he held me late at night and i cataloged for him all the things i’m currently afraid of.”
    Smiling through tears.

  • Jenn Tol

    You know Amanda, I listen to a-lot of Japanese indies rock musicians, and I love them to death, and from what I know about them and their shows everything has a hardcore fucking order. From the backstage clips I’ve seen, to the translated blog posts I’ve read, it appears that they stick to perfect schedules and rehearse the whole show before they perform it, on stage they rarely ever mess up, they don’t ever interrupt a song, hell, even their stage dives are rehearsed and planned.

    Though I have never seen them live in person, I have plenty of DVD’s and such and I have seen these shows and I feel so damn…detached. Even when they play my favorite songs of theirs with passion, and real emotion, it still feels scripted, most likely because it IS.

    Please god never be like that.

    Look, I’ve spent about 30 minutes writing this comment, then deleting almost all of it, then starting again, and I think I’ve finally realized what I wanted to say.

    I know what it’s like.

    And I think, I think it’s the same thing as your dishes. (mine too)

    You could decide to do your dishes or go to Australia. You can’t do your dishes AND THEN go to Australia. You can’t.

    You could decide to do a show by following a perfect set list and feel detached, or you could wing it and make it raw and connect with people and wonder if you should regret it later.

    I think your ‘problem’ is, you want to do the dishes. Part of you WANTS to. You want to do the dishes and then go to Australia. Because even when you’re in Australia and singing about your Bowie knife the dishes will still be in the back of your mind, scratching at your consciousness.

    It’s the same with your shows. The fact that you are capable of adapting in the face of chaos so easily is an amazing skill, and you’re right, it is an art. But obviously it’s not something that you feel completely comfortable with.

    Truth be told, when it all boils down, I can’t tell you anything you don’t know. You know that it’s all up to you. That no matter what anyone says and no matter the support or the negative backlash, you wont do it any sort of way until you make the choice.

    You wont do the dishes because you don’t want to, and that’s it. Even though part of you wants to, a bigger part says “fuck it”

    A big part of you doesn’t WANT the shows to have a perfect set list, or even a half-perfect one, even though a smaller part of you wants it. I could sit here and theorize as to WHY you feel this way, but to be honest, I don’t think I need to.

    And please don’t think for a SECOND that this is at all a negative thing. It really isn’t, it’s just who you are. My best “advice” is to try to find a compromise with yourself, try to push yourself and experiment with the bounds of your comfort and learn what it is you need to feel comfortable in the way you do things.

    I think you know everything I’m telling you, and my words are most likely repetitious and useless to you, but It kind of makes me feel better writing this, and believing you when you say you read all your comments.

    God I hope you reply to this, but I’m sure if you did I’d re-read my comment a few dozen times and call myself a moron. Haha.

    I love you.

    You got this. Give yourself more credit.


  • John

    I was at the show and it was electrifying, on the edge of class and chaos, just where a good show should be. You were surrounded by talented people who held it together effortlessly. More importantly you turned the opera house into a fucking party, and I bet that doesn’t happen often. I couldn’t stick around to see you after the show, but would have said thank you. Can’t wait for tonight.

    • John

      Ps, Tom Traubert’s Blues made the night for me

  • Lucy

    “upyours’ and also “sbb”- what a horrible thing to say, you clearly have no concept of love or how it can affect a person. When you’re in love you just want to shout it out to the world you are just so fucking happy, and when a wonderful talented couple come together who actually can comes along – I say, why not. Are you so bitter and selfish you can’t be happy for other people’s happiness?
    Amanda Palmer is amazing and unique, unlike many bands who will come on and play the setlist, say “hi sydney, we love it here…wooo!’ and leave, Amanda brings life and character to each of her performances which is incredibly rare when you think about it. I am going to her FREE performance tonight, and it will be amazing as it has been the last couple of times I have seen her. If you can’t appreciate her, her music and her style, well, it’s frankly a bit sad.

  • Katc

    Amanda, I think you are right to give yourself some grace here – everyone does this messy improvisation thing in one way or another, especially when trying to find their way through new roles and shifting priorities as life adds and takes away jobs and partners and homes and identities. Your messy improvisation are a part of what makes you wonderful, and it is a mixed bag to experience, true to life. Thank you for your openness about it – and it is totally part of the *art* of life. Everyone has messy transitions that make them stumble gracefully or not through parts of their lives, just most of us don’t get to do it on the stage of the Sydney Opera House. You have impact on big and small scales, and what makes you so beloved is the fact that you carry the reality of your small scale self/life to the large scale venue. It’s the same for all of us, we just don’t have the breadth of scale of impact that you do.

  • zoecello

    epic. wish i was there.

    • Amanda Palmer

      you would have loved it, i think.

  • Frankie Flores

    I’ve seen you twice: once in Santa Fe, NM, and once in San Francisco for the Evelyn Evelyn show. Both times you were real, funny, and best of all, true. I remember actually telling you I had seen you in Santa Fe, and you commenting on how odd that show was. For me it wasn’t. It was real, it was beautiful, it was epic. So many people (myself included) scrounge to see you play live because we want an authentic show. Not some over-produced, Bob Fosse-esque show, which I am sure you could do, but in all honesty, your fans live and breathe the punk rock cabaret mentality. We expect Wiemar, Germany nightclub shows, not the Ziegfeld Follies. And that’s why we love you. You give us what we want, even if it’s not what you hoped for. you give us true, jaw-dropping performances, pieces of time we will always treasure, and for that I thank you. Keep being insane, it keeps us on our toes.

  • csdaley

    I think part of finding yourself as an artist is finding how you work best. As a writer for years I outlined things to death and then never had the energy or creativity to finish a damn thing. Now I outline a little and then let the stories take me where they will.

    This method has led to the completion of two novels and well on way through my third. Sometimes I wonder if I know where the hell I am going and then somehow I get there. What’s more I can see I am actually getting better at it. Doesn’t make it any less terrifying.

    I have always enjoyed watching you perform. What that looks like each time has been different but always interesting. Always exciting and never boring

  • Elise F

    Dear Amanda Palmer,
    I’ve been listening to your music for seven years and if I ever feel frustrated or locked-up, I put on the Dresden Dolls album (self-titled/untitled?) and everything is screamed out because I can’t listen to your songs without singing along. Your music is my therapy and my own thoughts articulated.
    The End.

  • some girl

    You’re human, you fuck up sometimes. It’s cool that you have the balls to tell the world that you fucked up, and that you’re trying to fix things. If we wanted perfection, we’d be Celine Dion fans or something (g-d forbid).

    Seeing you make mistakes and admit to them is kinda nice, because I think you’re cool and smart and, well, better than me. If cool, smart girls who are better than me screw up from time to time, then I’m allowed the occasional fuckup as well.

  • James Patrick Gordon

    I have a theory (that’s still being field-tested) that all artists suffer from Imposter Syndrome. One of the main contributing causes is simply the nature of creative work. It’s fucking hard, yes. Except it’s also kind of not.

    There’s a lot that goes into making art- whatever the medium, even if it’s really ephemeral conceptual art- but when you’re in the thick of it, when you hit that flow channel, it doesn’t necessarily feel like work. Certainly not the notions of work we’re raised with. Like work is *supposed* to make you sweat, and leave you caked in mud and with a broken back after ten hours tending to crops (or working in the factory, or fixing toilets, or whatever). Or, if it’s white collar work, staring in front of a computer and being bored shitless. Making art doesn’t feel like work according to the definition we’re raised with.

    (Also a reason why politicians routinely threaten to slash arts funding, because “it’s not like [we’re] actually working or anything.”)

    So when we receive praise for what we do, or get paid for it, or when things go well as far as everyone else is concerned even though *we know* we made a mistake during the bridge/second act/pirouette/whatever, we feel guilt because it feels like we pulled a fast one on people.

    The good news is, the fact that you worry about this stuff makes you a good artist. Actually attaining perfection in art is probably impossible, but the best art is a reflection of the pursuit of perfection. Your practice of “winging it” during performances is part of your pursuit. There’s a difference between unpreparedness as artful improvisation, and unpreparedness as sloth- and the audience can usually tell the difference.

    In other words- worry about this to an extent, enough to stay mindful of your form and technique. But don’t worry about it so much that your art is paralyzed by fear.

    Be well.

  • Michelle

    Amanda, honestly, you’re amazing.
    I really truly hope one day I can get to one of your shows. You live life like nothingy little people like me will only ever dream about.

  • April

    See, this is going to be an odd comment of mine – I live with someone who loves your music – but I have not heard much of it. I however love you, or the you that you show on TV and Twitter, and I love that you are with Neil and it is beautiful to read and see and watch.
    And I love that you are honest here – so honest and amazing.
    Creating is HARD. Performing is HARD. I’m an actor- I get that.
    In all honesty and without trying to sound like a Mum you need to give yourself a break – how much has happened to you in the last little while – married then straight over to Australia – away from your husband? bloody huge even without the fact you are touring and performing which in and of itself is bloody huge.
    Just know you are allowed to screw up – sure – most ordinary people do it on a smaller scale – stuff up a presentation, freeze up on their lines in community theatre, fall apart during a pub gig…it isn’t your fault that this happened at the Opera house – i’m sure if you had a choice it wouldn’t have…Your world is out of kilter right now and thats okay – scary – but okay. and you are amazingly brave for putting yourself out here like this blogging about it :)
    I am now off to actually listen a bit more to your music. Because I think I may have done you a distinct disservice by not doing so earlier :)
    (oh and Jimmy – willing to bet he didn’t mean to fall off the stage :) )

  • PolitelyOffend

    As someone who has been to both your shows in bigger venues (like in Symphony Hall) and smaller venues (such as Club Oberon or Pearl St. Ballroom), I found that I enjoyed your smaller shows more. Maybe this is because a more experimental or chaotic feel suits that environment. The larger scale shows I have been to of yours have seemed very well put together. I guess it’s easier to compensate for any lack in preparation or any unexpected developments in a smaller venue. You can joke with the audience, laugh at yourself if need be, and everyone is generally more at ease.
    In Symphony Hall, I could definitely see how a lack of preparation could have doomed that show, since it was such an event. However, even though there were many restrained Pops fans, I was sitting next to a 70something year old man in a full tuxedo who looked dead serious until you came in on “Missed Me”. I looked over and he was beaming. You definitely have talent and charm, as shown by your ability to immediately win over an elderly buttoned-down man who had come for the Pops. I can’t imagine holding it together during a show of that scale and I have seen shows of yours that nearly went off the rails, but you dealt with it in a graceful way. The fact that you clearly value your audience shows, so it doesn’t feel like you are taking advantage by just waltzing in and winging it. Hell, I’ve seen you drag yourself out to a room of fans after a full run of cabaret and give everyone a moment of your time, which is so much more than I can say for other musicians I have seen. Even on some nights when you were visibly exhausted and sometimes even upset, I have never seen you be rude to a fan, even when they have word vomit and try to express everything in under 60 seconds (like me). You clearly care.
    Someone already said it, but you never fake a performance. Your care for the fans and the authenticity of your performance is what matters the most. The rest is a matter of preparation and organization, which can be fixed easier than lack of care could be.

  • Sam and Sam

    Me and my boyfriend came along not really knowing what we were in for. We knew a few Dresdon Dolls tracks and the singles from the last few Amanda Palmer albums.

    I’m not sure the show welcomed us in. It felt like it was performed to the first few rows. The band and you had in-jokes that the casual viewer was never allowed in on.

    You are already a success, you have a wild power of the thespian world. I really wanted to be apart of it and I’m not sure you wanted me to be. I love the music, I’ll still love the albums but I’m not a “ninja gig” type guy and it’s the Main Concert hall of an Opera House? You can improvise in any old venue – but I paid for the Opera House.

    I love ya magic and you are incredible – but maybe next time I’ll come to the side-show instead of paying big bucks for a main event.

  • Lee

    Amanda, even the most organised people have an off day. You wouldn’t be human if you didn’t. I’m sure greats like The Beatles and The Rolling Stones had gigs where they had to totally wing it. Without meaning to sound like I’m kissing your ass, I really enjoyed the sponteneity of the organised chaos. It highlighted the improv talents of both you and everyone supporting you. The music was tight and I experienced my fair share of laughs. You’re music has saved some people from being committed to a padded room or killing themselves. That is something that you can ultimately be proud of.

    I feel some people are taking this way too personally. Very few of us can understand the pressure of performing in front of a room of 2000 people. I know I would completely shit myself if I had to even stand on that stage.

    Life’s too short to be weighed down by this. The best you can do is learn from the experience and keep moving forward. I look forward to the ninja gig tonight, with a uniquely talented woman with the contageous smile on stage, and another visit from AFP next year.


  • Helephant

    Seeing you have fun is all I’m interested in and however that is is awesome. I can’t wait to see you in Auckland.
    I’ve got tickets for me and my girlfriend but she has one ankle with torn ligaments and one sprained ankle so unless the Kings Arms can cater for her she may miss out :(. Don’t suppose you have a stole she could sit on? She hurt herself the day she found out she graduated uni and now her summer has sucked! I think a dose of AFP would do the trick after hearing about this gig>

  • Janette Rose Rathbun

    I am not feeling particularly eloquent tonight, but I just wanted you to know how much I appreciated this blog, even though you feel as though you are fumbling backasswards through life.

    I am 30, in college, and I’ve fought off cancer and I’m fighting a neuromuscular disease. It all seems so overwhelming, like I will never really succeed and that trying to build a life is all a house of cards that will fall around me… and when I read this blog and learned that my strongest, most creative and AMAZING role model can admit when she feels weak, that she sometimes feels unsure of herself – well, it makes me feel a LOT less alone with my struggle. If Amanda Fucking Palmer can have days when she looks in the mirror and say…”Ohmigod, what the HELL am I doing?” then maybe I can too, and it will be OK. Thank you Amanda, knowing that a person as amazing as you sometimes feels the same way I do felt good. Smiling through my tears right now, XO.

  • Nick

    I’ve been to the past 3 shows you’ve played in NC (which was 3, and they were a while ago, come back we miss you), I spent part of my Christmas break while on holiday in NYC packing merch with Beth. I have all your music. I find you to be a fascinating and engaging performer and musician, and honestly the you-fucking-around bits are some of my favorite parts of your shows.

    I’m an artist, a dancer mostly, and have for much of my life also slid by on mostly effortless charm. It was easy, mostly entertaining, and it worked pretty damn well for a long time. I started to get tired of sliding by my freshman year of college and started dancing for a change of pace. I discovered I loved it when it was both the hardest and most engaging thing I had tried so far in my life at the time, and because I knew I couldn’t manage to succeed in the field on luck and talent alone, that for the first time in my life this was gonna take some honest to god hard work.

    So now what do I do? I improvise most of my material whenever I have a performance relying on my natural knack for winging it, fueled by some heavy years of serious study. It’s pretty much the best of both worlds for me, and it seems to be pretty close to what you’re doing now. Yeah, you never went to music school (fat lot of good it would’ve done you for the work you’re making now anyways), but you’ve done your years of work on the road in bands and on your own.

    The chaos is an art you’re perfecting, and so is the showmanship and the music and the sense of glorious revolution that trails in your wake like a billowing mist.

    If I wanted to hear a perfectly rehearsed scripted performance of music, I’d put on a fucking cd, not buy tickets to a show.

    (that being said, watching the dead You float through the audience with the sentinel march of the Danger Ensemble and get thrust on stage to spring suddenly to thunderous life with Astronaut was definitely an image that will stay in my mind for a very long time)

  • Kelsy Cowles

    Improv is the gateway to a greater performance. It leads to new and amazing discoveries. It comes from somewhere else in a person, somewhere that something that’s been rehearsed into oblivion has never seen.
    The new and amazing discovery may be that, “Holy fuck, I’m going to have to start planning things.” But it was a growing experience, and now you know. Our fuck-ups make us better performers.

  • Ryan_Anas

    For every show, there is a season, turn turn turn. The nature of your performances changes so much from night to night, band to band, and venue to venue. You connect with your audiences in many different ways, and I’m sure it’s easy to fall into patterns that may work in one atmosphere, but throw the show off track in another. I think it’s the other side of the blade which makes you such a captivating artist and human being.

    I can imagine how much it hurt for that to happen at The Sidney Opera House. Granted, you have been moving at a fever pitch since, well, ever, but I suppose there are times when no excuses do no good to ease the pain. This blog is an affirmation that you care deeply for the audences of your shows and want to do right by them. I’m sure it took a lot of courage to open yourself up like this.

    I hope you never lose the free spirited performance art side of what you do; some of my favorite shows have been what some might consider “off track”. I guess there are times when planing is a must. Striking a balance is key. Good luck, never sop caring, never stop planing, and when the mood is right, never stop throwing shit off track!

    Love ry

  • H.C.

    I wasn’t at the opera house but I have seen both Dolls shows and solo shows, and solo shows that had varying degrees of preparation.

    Perhaps you CAN wing/fake it, but why? Why not spend fifteen minutes writing out a proper setlist that you can have on stage so you don’t jump forward and back? Why not take a few hours to practice the songs so you don’t have to stop in the middle to joke that you don’t remember the words?

    Things like webcasts can and probably should be off-the-cuff. They’re free for the people watching and there’s no commitment. But when your fans are paying quite a lot of money to come to your show, the right thing for you to do is to care enough to strive for a good one. Sometimes you might be sick, or jet lagged, or for some other reason not “on” but as a professional, it’s disrespectful to have an off night because you put no time or energy into preparation.

    You will always have fans. There are people who will eat up everything you release, just because YOU released it. They love the persona, and part of the persona is that your shows are a mess. As someone who was initially drawn to you because of the depth of your art, I doubt I’ll continue to buy and consume your work if release after release is made up of covers and joke-songs, and if shows continue to be off-the-cuff and sloppy.

    I think the thing you may be having a hard time balancing is less about being a rockstar and a wife, and more about being an artist and a human. The artist needs to practice the craft; the human needs to spend time with a loved one. There’s no shame in letting the human win, but then perhaps you need to slow down and be a human for a while, until you feel compelled to put forth the effort required to be an artist. There is no law that says Amanda Palmer must tour nine months out of the year and release four new albums in the other three months.

    Obviously that is an exaggeration, but the quality of both your live shows and the albums you’ve released has changed a lot since the Dolls days. Dolls shows were TIGHT and had little filler; now it sometimes seems like there is as much talking as there is music. WKAP was a carefully crafted piece of high art that you’d obviously put a lot of time and energy into; Goes Down Under is a haphazard mess in comparison.

    It comes down to this: do you want to be the artist who releases WKAP & performs near-flawless, moving shows with the Boston Pops? Or would you rather be the artist who cobbles together a few live tracks and a few covers and some jokes and releases it with tons of merchandise to buy, and who feels bad enough after a show about the lack of effort she put in that she needed to blog about it?

    • Esmertina Bicklesnit

      Wow! You’re the little critical voice in our heads, come to life!! Hey — can I hire you to write me a scolding email every time I am late to an appointment because I lost my keys, or do anything else good, proper grownups shouldn’t do and could avoid with just a little bit of responsible preparation and respect for others?

      Why does Amanda have to choose between being the WKAP artist and the Down Under artist? Why shouldn’t she release fun projects between her WKAP-level records? And why shouldn’t there be tons of merch, as a way to support both herself and her team, that all give us so much?

      Read through the rest of the comments here. There are people who are forgiving Amanda because she is Amanda, sure … but there are also people who pay to see Amanda BE Amanda. And sometimes that means flaunting that ability to wing a fabulous show, trusting that the interplay between the audience and the artists will result in something better than she would have written out on paper if she had just been responsible.

      Seriously though, that scolding email thing — I think you could make that a lucrative sideline! :)

    • Amandasaunders11

      I know that you are entitled to your opinion but I am not sure why you would be so critical of someone who is so obviously passionate about her art. The is no possible reason that Amanda should have to choose between being a “serious” artist and putting out records of covers and songs that might be a little silly, but are also beautiful. Every song takes effort and if you have ever tried to write music, you might know it isn’t easy. There can be two sides to every artist. In many cases it makes the artist and their art more interesting. The fact that Amanda isn’t perfect makes her human and flawed and vulnerable, and relatable. A show is not great because there are no mistakes in the piano or the lyrics. A show is great because the artist is passionate and alive. as the first comment says, “there’s a difference between getting by on luck, and getting by on love. i think that the reason you’re able to do things like that is because you always put so much passion into whatever you’re doing. maybe that’s not it, but maybe it is — maybe you can make it without “trying” is because you’re sincere. you never have to fake it, you never have to be scripted in order to convey what you want to convey.” Amanda is wonderful and sincere and genuine and honest. If you want to see this as a negative then that is not an issue with her art but an issue of you feeling the need for perfection. Perfection is boring. Mistakes make us human. Mistakes help us learn and grow.

    • Krisis

      As an fan, human, and fellow artist I completely endorse this viewpoint – and still adore Amanda. The two can co-exist.

  • Stephanie

    Hmmm…far better to improvise and have a hell of a good time than to throw a diva fit and stomp off the stage. Yes?

  • Kim Lawson

    I can’t speak for anyone but myself, but personally I find you refreshing. I have been to enough over rehearsed prepackaged concerts and I am sick of it. If I wanted freeze-dried crap with chemicals in it to keep it fresh I would eat a micro-waved dinner. I go to a concert cause I want to see a unique performance not a cookie cutter one. So if you were to ask my opinion I would undoubtedly say…OMG Amanda Fucking Palmer just asked my opinion! .. And then go on to say “Improv cures what ails americans.”
    — Liz Allen. So keep that shit up lady!

  • Kyra

    I flew to Sydney from Perth for your show on Wednesday night Amanda, and had a midweek weekend in Sydney. What’s more, I attended after a chaotic, hot sweaty day of building two rooms of ikea furniture. I was worried that in my state of exhaustion, suffering from no sleep due to jet lag and a dodgy airmattress I would be tired and irritable. Instead, it was a magical show. In fact, one of the best gigs I have ever seen.

    I went to your gig last year at the opera house and this year’s gig far, far surpassed it. I found that the show was filled with a deep sense of love, which probably sounds corny but it wasn’t. It had love, lust, sadness, seriousness, longing, loneliness, passion. My partner and I laughed, I cried, I laughed some more and that was the joy of it. I don’t know whether it was planned, but I think probably my favourite moments were those that were unplanned: Neil’s poem followed by the Vegemite song. The serious meeting the irreverent and the serious within the irreverent. The acknowledgement.

    If that’s what you do with little planning, I would love to see what happens with super-organisation, and yet, perhaps those little subconscious connections between songs that get made by the chaos would then be lost and it would lose its magic and the meanings that gather and form along the way. Either way, I’ll keep coming to see what magic you make next.

    Enjoy Carriage Works and the ninja gig. I wish I could go. Instead, I’m going home next weekend and bringing my family to see you in Geraldton.

    Love xx

  • xMetanoiax : Francela

    Dear AFP:First of all, I think it’s silly of people to think they can decide what you and Neil should be doing with your relationship. How people feel about things they don’t like that don’t hurt them or anyone is, imo anyway, a reflection of their own issues. As a sidenote, you guys fill me and many others with excessive joy (as you obviously know), so I say power to your love.Personally, while I enjoy a good show, I can rock out just as easily to a studio recording at home in my underwear. I go to shows for the banter, the energy and the chaos, but I can see the other side of things.However, while I was not there personally, I do agree with the people who commented that for that much money and such a large event, I would have felt a bit let down. That being said, you haven’t been working solo -that- long and I think this kind of mistake is totally legitimate, if unfortunate. There’s also the consideration that your chaos vs. order dilema is made more complicated by the fact that fans of AFP’s music and fan’s of -AFP- have different wants and expectations.Many of us are fans of your art, but I think most of us are more than that; we’re friends you simply haven’t met all of. I love that we get to see your polished side, and your rough, messy side. I love that you’re real and not just some pop icon fantasy. I adore that you embrace your messiness, and the powerful, unbriddled effect you have on people. Howver, I also think that purposefully denying yourself something you feel you need more of would be missing the point of self love. I think there’s enough room for disciiplined Amanda and Chaotic Amanda, and all of Amanda in the world, in your art and in our hearts. If you need discipline and planning to further your own life and happiness I support you 100%. The best thing you can do for us is to do what is best for you. Sometimes the order might get in the way of the messiness, sometimes the messiness will get in the way of the order. It will always be because you’re being AFP, and I will always only love you more for it. I don’t know if it helps, but I am notorious for despairing over similar things. Something that has helped me is the idea “Less guilt, more responsibility.” More awareness and commitment to doing better at what I know I can do better, less guilt over what doesn’t end up working out, and trust that what doesn’t go according to plan is an equally valid and important result of my efforts. Regardless of what you do, I wish you the best of luck. Thank you for your art, for your courage, for your passion, for your sincerity, and the contagious nature of your love.

  • Zack Gilpin

    I love you. I love your music. You’re fucking beautiful.

    That’s all that will ever matter to me.

  • Elizabeth Smith

    As a struggling artist myself, I love this blog, and all your blogs. I take so much inspiration from you, and it’s so great to see you show your very raw, insecure, human side to us. The artists out there who try to pull off this image of perfection fall flat. You show your multi-faceted sides to the world, and we love you for it.

    I’m sorry to hear that you felt this way about your show. There have been days where I disappoint myself in my art as well – projects I know I could have done better, shows where I could have tried harder, cared more. Just like the rest of us, you will learn from this experience, move on, do better in the future. I hope you are never the perfectly polished, perfectly planned person you think we may want to see. We love it when you show us your raw side. However, as other people have stated, sometimes there’s a time and a place to be raw, and a time and a place to be a little more structured. YOU are the one to make the call on which you want to be. YOU are the one to tell yourself to be better. We as your fans can tell you we love you no matter what you do, or we hate you for not being perfect, or every variation in between. It doesn’t really matter what we tell you. It matters what YOU want and expect of yourself, and I’m glad to see that like me, you hold yourself to certain standards and when you don’t feel you’ve met them, you are disappointed and feel the urge to do better. More artists and people should think like you, insecurities and all.

    I think you handle all of your insecurities well, and I’m so glad you’ve found someone to support you and hold you and kiss away your fears. Some may say it’s too cutesy, or whatever, but that’s life, and I’m so glad you’re showing us that part of your life as well. I have my own version of Neil, someone steady and structured to offset my roller-coaster of moods and energy and life. It really means something to me that you draw all these parallels to my own life. It makes me even more inspired and excited to continue doing what I do and being who I am.

    Please keep doing what you do and being who you are and sharing it all with the rest of us. As long as you are open and honest with us, we will be the same with you, and the inspiration will work both ways. Much love.

    • Kate McKinnon

      Perfect comment. As someone who writes, gives talks, and does shows myself there are definitely times that I have winged something big and later wished I had brought more structure. Times I have let the joy and chaos of my personal life take some of the tight edge off of what I could have given, times when the people who already loved me were fine but those I had yet to win over were left shaking their heads.

      I like it that you care enough to be concerned. And I love it that you are open and honest enough to blog about it.

      Deep breath, move on, add it to the sum of your experience and let it inform the next time. And don’t listen to ANYONE who gripes about your love with Neil. I have a love like that too, actually- the same intensity, times of separation (we maybe are together half time) and the same deep level of love and support from a man who is so brilliant and fabulous that a person could almost say that if he loves me, by definition I am worth loving, by definition I am as amazing as he thinks I am. And it’s been 20 years with him.

      Your sharing your love, your hopes, your fears, your dreams and the depth of your heart is a bigger contribution to the world than a tight set of songs, this I can promise you.

      I realized a little while ago that what I actually get paid to do is live a rich, juicy, authentic life and share that with my people; you are doing this too, and I don’t think people are talking out of their ass when they say that you have saved their lives with your love.

      Hold yourself closely, and don’t stop looking deeply inside. You, and you alone, know when you could have done better. And the times when you don’t meet your own expectations will inform each time you step out again.

      I love you, and I respect you, and on balance, Amanda, you are one of the hardest working people I know.

  • Historytells

    Isn’t this the human condition? I mean, I essentially self-harm through sleep deprivation. My life might be so different if I just went to bed and even with the best of intentions I don’t. So it’s bleary eyed into work every morning and grumpy at the nearest and dearest. It’s less scary than knowing our true potential.

    And to whoever said it, yes, there is a rule that says AFP must tour. I need my annual Australian fix. The type of art this girl pedals reaches its fingers deep in, pokes at the hurty bits to remind you they’re there, and then squeezes your heart for good measure. (sorry, that was terrible, but I’m no author). DD releases dragged me into a fucking early mid-life crisis then out the other side. Bless.

  • Lilith

    What I loved about Wednesdays performance at the Opera House (and your show the year before) is that you can play to an audience of over a thousand people and make it feel as intimate as if you were in our living rooms.

    Perfection is all well and good, but if you had been more organised and all the songs had been played in order it would have felt like a repeatable experience. As it was we all got to see something spontaneous, funny, brilliant and unique. Yes, success is reliant on a strong connection between you and the audience (and you and the musicians you play with – and they were truly amazing, all of them) but it is clear that we love you all the better for your improvisational performances (well I do anyway)!

    I, for one, hope you continue to own the stage in your own unpredictable fashion. It is part of what makes you the wonderful and ever surprising Amanda Fucking Palmer.

  • lx

    Amanda, you rock. Rock is all about messiness and passion, which is what you do well. I prefer your live shows to your rec0rded music simply because often the recordings don’t capture your passion and your AFP-ness. That’s my husband you’re molesting up there and he loved the show. I loved the show. No it wasn’t perfect, sure, and I would have chucked out some songs and replaced them with others (because I should be in charge of everything) but ultimately you will learn from this. Obviously none of us are perfect and we all need to keep on learning about how to be a better person and improve our performances. The show ended strongly even without “Australia” and there were many excellent moments along the way. Mikelangelo’s hip actions. The Go Go Dancers. Jennifer’s piano playing. The double bass player’s eyebrow wriggling. Guido’s vaudevillian miming. Neil’s readings (and poem! Hell yeah!) Amanda’s vocals. Amanda’s audience orgy. I wish I was at your ninja gig tonight instead of home typing this :) xo

  • Kirrily

    I loved it, I felt connected…CD’s are for perfection, live music is for the PERFORMANCE! I wouldn’t have you change a thing!! <3

  • Shane

    There is spontaneous and then there is erratic. Wednesday night was good, but it wasn’t great (if that makes sense). It felt under done, and under prepared. I got my money’s worth of entertainment, don’t get me wrong, but the show didn’t hold a candle to last year’s Opera House gig (which, until Friday night, had been the best live show I had ever seen by any artist. Friday night was another level again. Wow!).

    Everyone has an off night, and you are lucky in that you have a supportive and forgiving fan base. I guess if you were looking for advice from someone who could never do what you do, just be careful not to take that support and forgiveness for granted. By all means experiment and be flexible (it’s part of why we all love you and your work), but the fact you felt doubt so strongly that you felt compelled to share it is telling, almost as if you feel it was a missed opportunity to create something truly special (but now I’m probably just putting words in your mouth, so to speak).

    Ultimately, people were entertained, and that’s the aim of the game, really. Learn from it what you will. It certainly won’t stop me coming back for more.

  • Marcy Tanter

    Yes it’s important to be prepared and artists should be critical of themselves. Not sticking to your original plan could have meant that what you wanted to convey to your audience wasn’t what they got from you, but you have to ask yourself if that’s ok. For whom do you perform? If your artistry depends upon sticking to a prepared plan then you should be unhappy about it and do better next time; if being flexible is an important aspect of your art, then don’t worry about it. It’s important to evaluate yourself to keep your work fresh, although many times audiences aren’t as concerned with what’s happening on stage as long as they get to see the artist and the lyrics to their fave songs don’t get screwed up, lol. If the other artists you were working with were unhappy with what happened, that you have to fix but you can’t go back and have a re-d0, but you can accept that your fans seem pretty happy with what you gave them and all you can do is move on to the next show.

  • Emma Egan

    I went to the performance on Australia Day. I also went to your performance last year at the Opera house, so I was really excited this time round. From what I could remember of the performance last year, it seemed well oiled and planned. It was fantastic then!

    This time round, I had more fun than I did last year! I felt like I was in a studio audience watching the “Amanda Palmer Variety Show”. There was so much energy and spontaneity, I didn’t even notice the time till the show ended. I felt like I could just tune in the next night and be entertained for three or four more hours! That’s a fantastic show!

    The thing which made the show for me was not only how much you seemed to be enjoying yourself but how much you were enjoying the company of the audience. You embraced the fact we were there, individuals who love you and the music you play.

    When I first saw you play I felt like I was sitting there with you at a pub, drinking wine and enjoying your music rather than being in a mass of people screaming at an almost godlike figure whose presence we were lucky to be in. It made me appreciate you as a performer even more because you were able to connect with the audience like that.

    You achieved this again and I will definitely see you perform again! I might even be able to get a seat close enough to throw you a vegemite sandwich!

  • S Culfeather

    Well I’d give anything to see you live plans or no plans and I kind of have the feeling that the unplannedness and going with the flow thing is what makes it real and fun and YOU.

    Don’t change, you’re lovely just as you are doing what you’re doing. *hugs*

  • clarity

    Right. This has nothing to do with the above blog entry, but I’ve been wanting to say it for some time.

    Have you tried vegemite and cheese?

    I don’t think you have to like vegemite. It’s not a prerequisite for existence. Really. But my partner (English) got together with me (Aussie) and he couldn’t stand Vegemite. Really. Couldn’t have a sandwich which was made with a knife which had once touched V.mite.

    So I introduced it subtlely, with a minor, minor scraping with tasty cheddar cheese. It goes really well, but only if you actually like cheese. We worked on it and eventually he liked it so much, it grossed *me* out. Ate it out of the jar. It was unnatural.

    Anyway, I know you’ve been trying, so I thought I would put my two cents in. Which we no longer have in this country.

    Now my best friend is needing to D&M so I have to go… but I love you.

  • another amanda

    Hiya kitten.
    I’m an academic. I hate it and I’m probably quitting. I’m deep into a degree in Slavic literature. My department has consistently screwed me over by giving me double teaching loads and making me take over the maximum courseload at the same time. I often feel like I am not in a position to do anything well. I have had to walk into classes with a list of 3 vague topics I’m going to cover in an hour-long class with a book I read 2 years + ago…

    I cynically created the motto: Advancement in academia equals getting better at doing shit at the last minute. This is merely what happens when you’re overbooked and you want to please everybody. I feel so guilty after lecturing when I haven’t prepped, even if the students find it helpful. But one only feels guilty about it when one gives a fuck about what one does. Which makes you better than 95% of professors out there, who are supposed to be running around igniting young minds. Chin up, take a good long break when you can so that you don’t burn yourself out. That’s the big danger when you’re doing this much stuff at once.

  • Veronica

    I think you’re allowed to be imperfect, and messy, and to screw some shows up, as every artist does sometime in their career. I hope this doesn’t sound as simple indulgence. I love your messiness, your imperfection and your improvisation, as long as it doesn’t really become disturbing or boring… My point is that if you really didn’t prepare that show properly and this brings you consequences, unenthusiastic feedback, disappointments from your fans, and stuff like that, you’ll surely learn for the next time…

  • Ellen Monroe

    You’re a human, everyone’s a human. Fuck knows I’ve walked into so many important things not having a clue what I was doing before until the second I did them, or just screwing up all over. That’s life, though, manic improvisation. And if sometimes that roller coaster makes you sick, well, that’s life, too. But I guarantee that your audience loved you. And I guarantee that they will always love you. Because you’re talented, you’re beautiful, and you’re human.

    There’s a reason I look up to you, and it’s not because you’re perfect.

  • Idolon

    I remember reading in an interview with her that Lady Gaga won’t even drink water on stage because it would remind her audience that she’s human and ruin the illusion, which I think is a really fucked up attitude.

    The mainstream media wants us to think of performers as perfect superhumans, but I’d rather see them as real people.

  • feeblemind

    I had a time when I was performing a lot as a poet, and I always perform my poems by heart, that I had this list of poems that I could choose from every night, because I was so used to doing them, that I improvised and not made a setlist in advance. I got a kick out of it. But I also like the greatness of a performance that is well thought through, which is what I normally do, and sometimes now with a group of musicians and poets where we make one performance as a group. I guess it comes down to this: it’s good to prepare but one should always be open to whatever might happen during the actual performance. You should always be ready and willing to let your entire preparation drop to the floor for the sake of something brilliant that comes your way and that you could never have dreamed of. I think the most amazing things happen when you let that magic of the moment take over. So, my advice is to take care of your preparation, but never lose that ability to spot the magic of the moment. (yeah right, like I’m gonna advise YOU, lol :))

  • Graypennell

    I been running a festival for about 6 years now. I learned quickly to plan loosely and be prepared for chaos. I have had miniature ponies run over old ladies, bands not show up, to many performers “invited by other” performers, I have had to crawl under2 hundred years old buildings to run power cables. The point…when you can meet and defeat Chaos you are living life. You are just a hurricane of life

  • Becc

    My girlfriend is a hard person to impress but you won her over the first time we ever saw you, you came on stage and didn`t do that “Hello (insert random city name here, which in this case was Melbourne)” that every other international act that tours here regurgitates to their audience.
    Your authentic in your act (in a non- oxymoron kinda way), and people see that.
    Life is a fuckshow, all that matters is how much fun you have xx

  • Guest

    Amanda I was at that show and it was the most amazing experience of my life. The fact that you completely bluff your way through shows is what makes it so fucking good! We don’t mind that you left a few songs off, you played amazingly as always and gave a really fucking good show. I saved for ages to go to that and because I’m under 18 it was one of the few I could attend. And it was worth every cent! So don’t put yourself down for it. Be fucking proud that you can improvise nearly and entire show and we will still love you to bits. That’s what you should be doing :)

    We could tell that you were enjoying it. You put so much passion into it that it’s infectious. You only have to look at all your fans. You said you got support through all the hugs. Well do you think we all would have waited around and hugged you if we were unimpressed? Because I was one of the people who waited and hugged and it made my day. And I waited even though I knew there was a 3 hour drive to get back to where I was staying. Because that is how good you were. You touch so many people through your music. Hell you saved my life with it.

    So don’t put yourself down. You were amazing and that bullshitting your way through the show is exactly why we love you! <3 xxx

  • Chanin

    Amanda….. Your passion for music and for life is what made me fall in love with you. You appreciate your fans in such an honest way like so few others do, and that deserves so much respect in my book. The way you put on a show, whether with a plan or without, is part of the joy and amazement of seeing the one and only Amanda Fucking Palmer live in concert. You can literally feel the love radiating from the stage and from the audience. The one thing all of your fans have in common, is appreciating true beauty. Which you have an abundence of. Don’t be hard on yourself for going out there without a plan, be proud of yourself because you went out there without a plan. Because you went out there and did your thing and I can say without even having been there, that you amazed and fascinated every fan in that audience without fail. You are surrounded by love in such a huge way and that is better than a plan anyday.

    PS….. the new album is spectacluar. Amazing and touchingly beautiful in so many ways. Don’t ever stop being you :)

  • Kirra

    Hey Amanda!

    You are awesome, I love being part of your art as a fan. However performances can always go either way which is part of the excitement of live shows, they will range from incredible to shit and everyone has a different opinion of the same thing. Last week I saw a movie about The Doors ‘When You’re Strange’ which I loved. I would highly recommend it and is interesting to see how their performances would go with the unpredictable Jim Morrison .

    Another thing is I’ve recently been to concerts where people standing right near you are happy to have a conversation through at least half the show. This is really fucking annoying and can wreck a show for you but is nothing to do with the performer.

    I’ve also seen bands walk off stage in the middle of the set and then come back and keep performing. Whatever – I love their music and like hearing it live, I’m not going to stress about them being a bit rock and roll.

    I think the Sydney Opera House gig looks bloody awesome and I wish I could have gone! Look forward to seeing you in Adelaide for the Fringe though.

    I also thing you and Neil are very generous for sharing your love for each other with the rest of us, and generally including us in your daily life through the internet!

    Kirra :) o x

    Vegemite is yum!

  • Rose Blak

    fab gig at OPERA HOUSE!!!! and whatever you thought, you were as divine & delish as always….. as were the rest of the support talent ..specially your yum man!!!!!!!!only the pretty line up of gals cld have been better rehearsed in their coreography! they were a bit sloppy!!!!
    news of the NINJA gig via your blog!!!not arrive till this AM …golly gosh!! too too0 late!!!tis sunday!!..thanx for a FABB night!!! you rock!!!

  • Samipars

    dear afp,

    being that i was at the opera house last week- remember saying ‘ is any here single?-, i can safely assure you that your ‘bullshit’ is awesome, and of the quality that few can attain.

    Long may it continue :)


  • Fiona


    Okay, I think I’m relieved in a way that I get to be at the Canberra show on Tuesday rather than having spend hundreds in accom and tix etc in Sydney. Both because it’s upsetting to read how frustrated you were with youself , and because I love your song Australia, and it makes me cry and I think I’ll cry on Tuesday.

    Ever inarticulate,


  • Wayne

    I first saw the Rolling Stones 40 years ago and their show was THOROUGHLY planned and so lifeless and boring I lost interest in my boyhood heroes. Your show on Wed. night was SO not like that. You might have winged it more than you wanted to but the spontaneity made it all the more personal to the audience and that’s why you got away with it as you say (you’re WAY too hard on yourself). I wish more concerts were as intimate as yours. Please come back next year!

  • Andrea

    I have two reactions…first, intention is everything. If you decide in advance to wing it, then you are making a decision as an artist about what kind of artistic experience you want to offer. But if you don’t feel in control of what you are offering, or if you make mistakes that are not in line with your original intentions and decide on the fly that the mistakes ARE the experience, then you begin to travel down the road called “if I’m an artist then everything I do is art,” and that road can lead to all sorts of less-than-ideal destinations.

    My second reaction is you have outlined a conflict I would bet every artist who is trying to earn a living as an artist faces at some point — art vs. commerce. It is my belief that as soon as an artist sells her art, compromise is inevitable. That is especially true of artists whose art includes performance. As an entertainer you are selling art in advance, before it’s even happened. That’s a lot of pressure. Performance artists — musicians, actors, dancers — who consistently make money and produce art that is satisfying to both maker and viewer serve two masters: whatever is driving them to make art, and the need to hit the standards of professional, commercial entertainment. Those two masters don’t always shake hands and play nicely together. Thus the need for compromise.

    I have an actor friend who once told me “The purest expression of the art of acting happens without an audience.” Maybe so. But how pointless is that? It sure would be safe, though, huh? Whether or not you always hit whatever mark you set for yourself, and whatever you take from each experience, I hope you also realize you are brave. It may not feel that way, if you are driven to perform, but nevertheless once you invite people into your life to judge and experience you, you are living a courageous life. If I’d had the kind of night you had in Sydney, that is what I would try to take away from it. Thank you so much for sharing what you do.

  • northforwinter

    I go to Amanda Palmer shows because I love the fact that I never know what to expect. I love that you don’t know what to expect. I love that everyone in the room is high on anticipation because no one knows exactly what is coming next and whatever it is, they KNOW it’s going to be amazing. I’ve seen you on every visit to Australia for the past few years and everytime I walk out of there going ‘I didn’t think she could get any better than the last time’. I walked out of the opera house almost speechless because, to me, that was the perfect combination and balance of art and entertainment. I know you said that you feel like you are sick of getting away with it based on charm, but that’s why I love your shows. Every show is something special, it’s like getting something that has been handcrafted and not produced on a production line. Albums need to be slick, live performance (of this nature) evolve and grow from the moment you step on the stage. They shouldn’t be tight and you shouldn’t feel like you need to adhere to what other artists do. I wish the opera house show was recorded for a DVD because I want to enjoy it again, I want to share it with my friends overseas who couldn’t be there because I could never convey the true experience I had at the show I can only describe as an extravaganza.
    I wanted to say all this to you last night after the ninja show, but I seemed to lose the power of speech. But thank you for just being you and coming back to Australia time and time again, which is something very few artists do.

  • Jess

    I just wanted to thank you for writing this blog and explaining. While I thought the show was good, I could tell that it was messier than it needed to be – but really that is not what bothered me. What did was your attitude after the show at the signing. Now, I know it was a long show, and after reading this blog I also know that you must have been incredibly emotional, but my sister and I spent a lot of money on tickets and merch ($320 for 4 tickets and over $200 on shirts, cd’s, coasters, and the WKAP book) and we waited patiently in line for a chance to meet you. I told you it was a great show and you simply nodded and looked to the next person. No personalisation on my cd (why not just sign the merch beforehand?) and I understand there were a lot of people to get through, but it astounds me that you are thanking people for their hugs when you had to stand on the table and announce to the crowd that they had to stop taking pictures (after already telling an Opera House worker to do it), and look as if the last thing you wanted was people talking to you or touching you. My sister and I left with a very bad taste in our mouths, because you seem to care so much for your fans and as far as I’m concerned you are rewarded ten fold by them, yet we were treated as inconvenient sheep. My sister also ordered your album from JB Hi-Fi and it only contains a slip of paper with your signature on it? Not even on the cd or cover slip? Pointless. Sorry to rant, but I’ve read all these comments and as far as I’m concerned, people are being very lenient.

    I will see you in concert again, (I heard the last Opera House gig was amazeballs) and I will continue to buy your albums and follow you on twitter because I believe in you and your music, but I needed to let you know how disappointed I was with what could have been the most epic Australia Day concert ever.

    Also – I think props *have* to go to Mikelangelo and the Black Sea Gentlemen for keeping the show funny and grounded in chaos.

  • Rose Grounds

    Awwwww wish i was at your show on 5th feb i’ll be eighteen years old, dag nabbit. Oh well, have a fucking great time with all your shows!!!! <3 xox

  • prettybynight

    I was there. i loved it. i was upset that i hadn’t bought the slightly more expensive tickets so we could sit closer, coz we felt kind of cut off from everything and everyone. but that was the only bit i didn’t like. i thought the gig was amazing. i loved the mess, i loved seeing you being you. and i know i’m not really saying anything that anyone else hasn’t already said, but i just want to add my voice to the din. you are amazing. we love you for exactly what we got there at the opera house. coz it felt like you took that huge imposing venue and just made it your own. you fucking owned that place. it didn’t feel to me like i’d seen you ‘on an off day’. it just felt like one of the best gigs i remember going to. and it matched the afp i see in my head. the one that never pulls a fast one on us, that tweets and blogs and sings exactly what she’s thinking, whether its about her period or her mushy feelings about neil or whatever. please never change

    • prettybynight

      i should clarify that last comment. please never stop being amanda fucking palmer. if change is what you want, feel free to change. just don’t feel you need to

  • MauraLee

    I don’t think there’s anything wrong with bullshitting and improvisation, as they make the performance and life more interesting. It can throw off others, and throw off our own centers, but what matters, I think, is the intention and the energy: the love. Watching your performances in the past, listening to live albums (including the tracks on the “Down Under” record), and following your blog, it’s completely obvious that the love is there, and that the intention isn’t necessarily to throw others off. As you’ve said yourself in another blog, there’s still a “perfect system” being figured out, so why not make it more interesting in the process? :]

  • Amber G

    OK little Delirium girl. I’m a newer fan and I may choose to keep buying your recordings rather than ever attend a show. I enjoy your art, admire your philosophy (and appreciate your husband!) But I may be too left-brained to see you live. I want more structure in shows. And that’s OK. It’s all good. I think you should just give yourself a big hug and know that there are many people, some of whom are in your audience, who think and function like you. Remember the stroke victim/neuroscientist TED speaker? We all need models who show us how to be present, how to experience the moment without considering the clock or the setlist. Just do you best, and those of us who know the show might be too frustrating can stay home and love you from a distance.

  • Guest

    I loved it. I don’t even care if you didn’t. Yeah so I would have liked to hear Australia and a few of the other ones you mentioned. So at first I was a little disappointed that we didn’t get them. Yeah ok I thought you must have had a combination of lack of preparation plus a dislike for some of the songs like Australia that you must do alot. But then I had like a fucking epiphany, the fact that I saw you at all is the important thing. It was so fucking awesome. I can understand how you felt and why but don’t put yourself down too much!

  • Lisa too

    I’m a musician, and I used to struggle with this same problem. I thought I needed to utterly relinquish control for the music to feel alive. But I have a fabulous music teacher and mentor who helped me realize that I was working from a false dichotomy (one that’s been repeated over and over in these comments)– the idea that you have to choose between a chaotic but vibrant performance or one that is well prepared but lifeless. It’s not a balancing act between two opposites. The one is contained within the other, and they make a beautiful, harmonic whole.

    Learning that lesson is where the real work of being an artist began for me. I’ll never stop working on this because it’s the heart and soul of performance. And it goes hand-in-hand with a principle that you already hold very dear: Performing is all about connecting with the audience.

    You’re able to make that connection. It’s something I’m getting better at, and it’s a very particular and peculiar feeling, a strange sort of bi-location. There’s a version of me that’s busy with the mechanics of performance (playing the right notes, using good technique, etc.). Then there’s another version of me that’s sitting next to every single person in the audience. That second version is listening *with* them and whispering in their ears, “Ooo, did you hear the sorrow there? And wait just a moment… there– exultation! Dance with me, now…” and so on. That whisper is how I bring them into the otherworld that the sound creates. In the silence following a piece and during the applause after the silence, I’m still whispering, “Ah, but just wait until you hear what’s next!”

    It takes an enormous amount of energy and concentration to keep that whisper going. That’s the hard part of performing, and it never gets any easier, never takes any less effort.

    But there are things we performers often do that make it harder. Failing to prepare is a big one. If I have to concentrate on a difficult fingering passage, or if I’m worried I’ll flub a tricky rhythm, then I’m not out in the audience whispering to them. If I take even a brief moment during the applause trying to remember what piece is next, I’m not focused on leading them into it with me. Each one of those moments adds a brick between the audience and the experience that I want them to have. A few bricks aren’t a big deal, but if I drop enough bricks, I end up with a wall.

    I wasn’t there, but it sounds like you built a wall at the Opera House gig; you weren’t happy with it, and some people have mentioned here that they felt shut out. Of course, you also had a lot of fans there who have invested their own energy into connecting with you, and they used that connection to tunnel past the wall. But I think you already know that it’s unsatisfying– for the audience and for you– to ask them to do that. It is the performer’s responsibility to pull the audience into the experience; that’s why you’re there. And yes, it’s a bit of a failure when you don’t meet that responsibility. You end up leaving too many people on the other side of that wall, which makes you sad and them disappointed.

    It’s not the end of the world, of course. It’s one missed opportunity out of a lifetime of opportunities, the kind of necessary learning experience all performers have to have at some point. The next time you get on stage, it doesn’t do any good if you’re worried about not connecting. That just adds more bricks, so it’s important to forgive yourself for making mistakes. But if you build too many walls at too many shows, you’ll get a reputation for not being consistent– and lose audience members. (I know this one from hard experience.)

    So, we still have the question of what to do about chaos and impulsiveness, which are so essential to making art. It sounds counter-intuitive, but for me, preparation is what makes chaos work. The more my mechanical-self is floating along on autopilot, the more my whispering-self is free to let emotion fly, to change things up, to grab the audience by the hand and whirl them into chaos with me.

    If I try to do that without preparation, I just end up with lots of bricks. When I’m not prepared, the music sounds lifeless because I’m distracted with all the minutiae. If I try to cover for that by adding in chaos, it sounds lifeless *and* incompetent. Ugh.

    The fact that you *can* be chaotic is an invaluable asset. It lets you make the thousandth performance of a song feel fresh. It lets you take unplanned problems in stride without panicking, so you can maintain the connection with the audience. It lets you express yourself in ways that are open and honest and raw and authentic. Chaos is essential for that.

    The trick is to get out of the way of your chaotic, creative self: prepare well, get a good night’s sleep, do yoga, wear your lucky mirkin, all the things you’ve learned to do that minimize the number of bricks you have to deal with. It’s also handy to have a sledgehammer ready to knock down walls just in case.

    Um, it’s probably best if you take that sledgehammer thing metaphorically.

  • Zoe Anderson

    Dear Amanda. I loved your show so much. Thankyou! I loved it for its chaos and its craziness and its fun. I saw you last year at the Opera House as well, and loved it of course, but nothing compares to all the energy and hi jinx that we were treated to this time around. I go to shows to laugh, to experience the artists I love in the flesh, and I kinda relish it when it’s a bit unpolished and unplanned. It feels more personal. I loved all the collaboration and the guests. If felt like a party, a box of delights. Keep it up, keep being you!

  • Aaron Aitchison

    I loved the show at the Opera House. The chaos was all part of the fun. It was a very entertaining evening. I will be seeing you in Brisbane!

  • sma


    I first saw the Dresden Dolls at the UNSW Roundhouse (it was originally meant to be at the Gaelic but that sold out and I was devastated until it moved venues), then I saw your first Australian solo show at the Factory Theatre with the The Art (previously the Follow) and Battle Circus, then your next solo show at the Factory with the Danger Ensemble…..Those three shows were amazing.

    And then your shows in Sydney were at the Opera House. First in that little side , then the main hall.

    Originally I thought – THe Opera House – cool…..but in actual fact I was a bit disappointed.

    Amanda I don’t believe that YOU being organised or DIS organised can really affect your show – you are extremely warm and talented – the issue is the venue.

    The issue is SEATS.

    Seats make a cold venue.

    You are a rock star!

    When I see you I want to rock out! I want to sing along! I want to dance! I want you to come into the ‘mosh’ and sing, dance and play ukelele with us!!

    And you DID do that at the first three shows in Australia!


    But Seats, and the formality that is the Opera House creates such a barrier between you as the performer and us as the audience.

    Sitting down we are less inclined to sing along. We are allocated seats – there is no sneaky pushing through to get to the front….

    We are less inclined to stand up and start dancing because that would block people sitting behind us…

    Yes at the Opera House you jumped off stage and ran between the first few rows and came upstairs but there was still that barrier (that barrier created by being seated)

    Australia Days gig at the Opera House was excellent BUT it was like watching it on youtube….it was impersonal – I didnt feel “involved”

    I’m sure the Carraigeworks gig would have been much better – unfortunately I can’t justify getting myself an iPhone, just so I can follow you on Twitter (as much as I wish I could) – I’m just not technically savvy enough….

    The Opera House is a beautiful venue but PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE next time you have a proper gig in Sydney – don’t do it there – it’s way too impersonal.

    Go back to the Factory! Or if that is too small. How about the Enmore? That is just as gorgeous but so much more inviting!! It’s even closer to where your after party was at Camelot.

    Anyway that was my anti – Opera House rant

    I hope to see you in Adelaide with Jason Webley and Evelyn Evelyn !!!

  • Crateycoo

    When I got to the front of the signing line and saw your face, I knew you were feeling completely out of sorts. I’m so glad I got to hug you (and Neil, oh my goodness) that I myself actually burst into tears as I walked down the steps. The last Opera House show was one of the best nights of my life, ever, ever (as I tried to explain mid-hug… uke/John Cage/being onstage with your idol MADNESS JOY) and so I brought my Mum along to this one. And you gained a new fan in her as a result of that show. I know you were on the verge of tears, and that you feel unhappy about what happened, but please believe me (and everyone else) when we say that we had a brilliant evening. You don’t just get people saying these things for the heck of it. Certainly you don’t get the sort of people who listen to your music saying these things as just empty words.

    It didn’t matter. It looked glorious. You poured out every ounce of yourself into those songs, and we could all see it. I’d so much rather see someone who put effort into connecting with and performing to her audience, than someone who put all the effort into planning it instead. It means more. It means SO MUCH more.

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