Playing at Kingston’s BSP to a raucous sold out crowd of 700 diehard fans, Amanda Palmer and Brian Viglione kicked off their first of three 2016 reunion concerts. There were moments of forgetfulness, joy, passion, and love throughout the two and a half hour performance. This was a slightly secret warm up show for Blue Hills Band Pavilion and the Amphitheatre at Coney Island Boardwalk, and it was only slightly secret as the show almost sold-out on presales alone. It was a night many fans of The Dresden Dolls have been dreaming of for the last five or so years since the duo’s last concert.
Walking around the room, the all-inclusive crowd could do nothing but show love for every note of music they had the chance of hearing. Ben Hopkins and Liv Bruce, better known as the experimental queercore punk rock band PWR BTTM opened the show, with Ben giving the mission statement of the evening: look out for and respect one another no matter age, sex, wardrobe, race, and even height. Throughout the show each member of the audience danced as if no one was watching and included neighbors they had only met hours before into their group to just have the best night they could. Watching this take place at a show is infectious and just makes you join in on the fun.
Ben and Liv were full of hilarious chatter between songs, as usual, but once they started playing their songs you could see that the duo has a lot of potential to be headlining their own shows. Flushing out the sound for part of the set was Taliana Katz of And the Kids. Having a third musician helped the songs of PWR BTTM reach a new level. Having originated near Kingston, Ben and Liv were very excited to be playing with The Dresden Dolls in such a big room.
From the moment Amanda and Brian took the stage in all their vaudevillian dark cabaret humor, you could see how excited the two were to be playing again with one another. During the first third of the show the duo looked and sounded a little tense, but by the end of the set it had seemed as if no time had passed at all since the last show. The stopping and restarting of some songs only added to the cheers they would get from the crowd.
Watching Brian play is mesmerizing. The fact that he can act while playing incredible drum fill after incredible drum fill is astounding. He’s an absolute machine and is matched perfectly by Amanda’s voice and keyboard playing. During many of the songs, deep cuts, new songs, and hits, they locked eyes with each other and laughed and smiled as they continued to push on through the set.
Three out of left field covers dotted the set and were smash hits. One they performed with PWR BTTM and had to be restarted due to a guitar failure and saw Ben doing some quick stand-up comedy. Seeing these two duo enjoy one another on stage was icing on the cake to a wild evening. To start the encores another friend who you might know from The Hold Steady was brought out to help on a song that might as well have been a sea shanty. Listening to Amanda and Brian try to tackle so many different genres in a cabaret setting was amazing. The styles may not have always worked, but they were having as much fun on stage as anyone who has ever played music together. If you see one of these two remaining shows scream, sing, laugh, cry, and smile with The Dresden Dolls as we don’t know what the future will hold for the two, but maybe if we give them enough energy they will do another run.
Article: Bryan Lasky