xans: Fangirl Squee (Squee)
[personal profile] xans
So, Amanda Palmer and the Grand Theft Orchestra are in the country. I ummed and ahhed about buying a ticket to the Wellington show, but it ended up sold out and they couldn't move to a bigger venue. I posted to twitter regarding my conundrum: I wanted to go, but I wanted someone to share the experience with. As far as I knew, I didn't have any friends who were AFP fans that lived close by. Hubs also wouldn't be keen to go out on a work night, not that he was overstruck by her music when I played a couple songs for him.

Anyway, come last weekend and Amanda is tweeting about how she's in the country and trying to get over her jetlag, and she was thinking a ninja gig, only with all the offers of places to visit, maybe she would do a sort of ninja parade instead. Well. I couldn't miss this. So I didn't.

And I remembered one of my childhood friends (his mother used to babysit my brother & I after school but we've kept touch over the years) was now living in Wellington, and had recently been raving about Neil Gaiman's "Ocean at the End of the Lane." If he's a Gaiman fan, I wondered, is he possibly an AFP fan like me? Sent him a message via FB, and it turned out his friend had been hanging out with Amanda and he was thinking of going to the ninja parade. Sweet, I have someone to meet up with.

So I put together my bag of things, double checked my camera batteries were charged, and Alan took me in. It was fun walking towards the painted piano outside this cafe, to see the colourful group already gathering in anticipation. All up I think 1-200 odd people showed up. There was a cheer as Amanda arrived. She is rather gorgeous.

She opened with this very simple song on the ukelele, "I love her cigarettes" that we all pretty much learned by the end of the parade if not the end of the first rendition. The next song she sang on her uke, I can't remember what it was (something Dresden Dolls? I am a bad fan), only that she stopped mid-song to observe someone sitting in the front row who'd arrived dressed up as a ninja. She was amused as fuck about that, before carrying on. Then she played a couple songs on the piano, one being "The Killing Type" and then "Coin Operated Boy" and during that song she broke the piano (oops).

Then it was time to move on to the next destination (Wellington Library, Young Adult Section) while she spoke to the cafe owner and apologised about the piano. At the library she struggled to think of songs that were library appropriate and thematic... I don't think I can remember the first song, but I do remember her playing "Map of Tasmania" and everyone self-censoring the swear word. And we sang her ukelele cover of Radiohead's "Creep", that was fun.

My friend missed the opening location because he was tied up with work but he came along to the library and through text messages we met up at the end of that before the group moved on to Te Papa. We ended up walking roughly along side Amanda for a good portion of the walk (I tried not to stumble into her when the pathway narrowed and dropped my pace so I didn't walk on her heels and breathe down her neck like a creeper). She was talking to a girl that later on we found out was semi-kinda-sorta-related to her (it was a convoluted brother's wife's cousin's sister-in-law kind of thing I don't recall the exact path it took haha).

Oh, yeah, remember how I double checked my camera batteries? And Alan even asked if I packed spares "Spares? I don't need spares! They're fine!" Hahahahahahahahahaha. My camera lied. By carefully turning on and off I was able to land a few snap shots, but it didn't like bad light or zooming and so several shots didn't turn out and by the end of the evening the fucker wouldn't stay on long enough to take a shot. So. About four shots turned out well and that was it. And I didn't get a photo with her like I wanted. (I didn't think to switch my SIM card into hubs old cellphone that has the camera in it either, stupid me.)

Anyway, at Te Papa she sang another song I can't remember what it was called, the one about Britney, herself & Madonna (there's a theme here. I think I forgot the name of at least one song at each venue) before singing the New Zealand Song. She told us of its conception, and apologised that it was rather crappy for being hastily written, and she struggled to remember the lyrics lol. Then our assignment to take 7 minutes--one minute to find an object, five minutes to draw it, one minute to return--and then we all went outside and lined up so she could record them all. I'm no artist, but I drew the hooked beak from a giant squid and happened to be standing next to a guy who drew a squid but I doubt it was apparent to anyone but me wtf it was.

I was also standing next to this red head girl, and her face was very familiar to me. I was pretty sure I recognised her from working at my local supermarket. I didn't ask her that right away though, I waited until the end of the night before I left, so if I was wrong I had a quick exit lol. Turns out she did used to work there but not anymore. So I wasn't crazy, heh.

After Te Papa we moved on to Cuba Street and this bookstore. The original intent had been to do something similar to what she did in Portland with everyone quietly picking out books and her signing them, but there were way more than us, ONE shopkeeper and the bookkeeping was manual. Some people bought books, but my friend and I chose not to. She sang the cigarette song again, and, "Do You Swear To Tell The Truth The Whole Truth And Nothing But The Truth So Help Your Black Ass" and possibly one other? She wrapped it up with the signing of the books that people bought. At the point my friend left to go meet some other friends and I was on my own again. I tried not to feel to awkward but I did feel a bit weird. I also wanted to get a hug from Amanda and was trying to work out an opportune moment to get that hug without interrupting the flow of things. (spoiler: I did get a hug eventually. It was only slightly awkward)

We moved up the street to this art gallery place called Laundry on Cuba? Where we all sort of gathered on the street and clogged the footpath, while Amanda sat at a piano out front of the place. It was rather dark, as the place was between streetlights although they did put lamps on the piano and such. There was also a pair of flamingo ornaments which made me think of the whole Neil-Flamingo thing from a few months back. And Amanda played, on a piano that was so very out of tune, again at least one song I don't recall before she chose to sing "Hallelujah" which was perfect and we all joined in, because who the fuck doesn't sing along to "Hallelujah".

We also got the tale about how she got arrested in Amsterdam for drinking beer on the street when performing like she was, and, y'know, drinking in a public street is illegal here too (we suggested she try bribing our cops with a sip of they tried arresting her here). The rest of her band showed up at that point, so she introduced them and they posed for some photos... I seriously wish my camera had been working then because there was a hilarious moment when Thor & Jherek were holding her up to sit on Chad's shoulders, and Chad briefly turned around so he faced her crotch. Primo shot right there, lol.

Then it was time to move on to our FINAL DESTINATION (why did no one make jokes about how we were all gonna die?), a place called the Garret Street Collective. Most people headed off straight away but a few lingered for photo ops with the whole band and such. We ended up in this third floor 'L'-shaped room and it was rather cosy, people were picking places and pouring drinks and the like. I secured a place next to the wall at the corner of the 'L' where I had an eye on the door but could see the rest of the room. At one moment when I had my back to the door I felt someone sort of bump into me, turned, and there was Amanda. (This isn't when I got my hug.) She looked at the crowd in the room, looked at me, and said, "Wow," before someone was tugging her elbow to introduce her to this guy called Hans.

Hans was quickly downing a drink to stir up some liquid courage, because by all accounts he's a rather shy fellow. (He looked so prim and proper, with his letterman's jacket and hair parted to the side and everything) His friends really wanted him to perform for Amanda though, so they went over to the mic where the people who lived/worked there introduced things and Hans got to play the uke first. So this supposedly shy guy bellowed out this rousing song-tale about some dreadful black-hearted guy. I didn't know the song but a lot of the others did and there was much stamping and shouting as it was sung. Then it was Amanda's turn to play again.

Again I can't remember the song but she was slightly thrown off by the fact the piano keys had at some point been splashed with paint, so there were white keys and black keys that were in fact red, and there was no rhyme (ha!) or reason to it. She also broke it at some point. (So that's two broken pianos, one out of tune piano.) They wound up pulling off a couple panels and such so she could get at the innards and fix thing, and she performed the rest of the song with an exposed piano.

Someone requested something from Theatre is Evil, so it was either Bed Song or Trout Heart Replica and we settled on Trout Heart. She also gave the full unabridged tale of its conception, and about how Neil wrote a poem about that event, and that their other friend Jen was supposed to create something related to the trout thing, but she is a "bad artist" because she hasn't done so yet. (We are supposed to tease her about this.)

They had a set of drums and a bass, so she played a couple sets with the people there, "Blister in the Sun" and something else I've forgotten, but there was a mosh pit involved. And then we got "Ukelele Anthem" which was great, although slightly disconcerting for me, used to listening to it alone, to have people laughing at the lyrics. The room went quiet and then there was this very polite, "One more!" And so Amanda played the cigarette one last time and we sang along (because we'd all learned it by now).

At this point it sort of broke down to a sort of meet-and-greet style thing, so I made my way through the crowd the queue up with the others wanting hugs, kisses, photos, autographs etc. I wound up lending my vivid to a couple girls wanting their bags signed (I had thought about bringing my Theatre is Evil booklet/CD case to be signed but I'm not really worried about collecting autographs--apart from my Sam Neill one anyway). And then there was a small cluster of us in one of those party circles with Amanda having a wee chat.

She was, y'know, amazed/impressed at all of us that had stuck with her since quarter to 4, as it was after 8 at this point. I was all, "I'm a housewife, I got plenty of free time." "Kids?" she asked me. "Nah, nah, and my husband's kids are all grown up." "Same." At this point I was sort of conscious I wasn't the only person in the group, or room, who wanted her attention so I asked for a hug then. (It was slightly awkward to me to jump to hugs after 30s of conversation but it probably didn't even phase her.) She leaned in, and I leaned in... I'm not generally a huggy person with anyone beyond my husband (I'm sort of obliged to hug mum, dad, & BFF but I'm still not v. huggy with them), but that was a wonderful hug to have anyway. I said "Thank you, this has been fun," and then the others in the little circle were getting their hugs and whatnot, so I slowly backed out so people behind me could get a moment of her time too.

After having a wee chat with the red-head I mentioned before, I didn't stick around long after that. I knew I needed to walk down to the train station, and would take an hour on the train to get home. I had said to Alan that I didn't know what time I'd be home and he'd probably be on his own for dinner but I also knew he'd be wondering where I was at. I couldn't text him because he uses his cellphone so infrequently that his SIM card had actually expired.

So.

Conclusion, if you ever get the chance to attend an Amanda Palmer ninja gig (or better yet, ninja parade)... DO IT. :D

December 2015

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