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Amanda Palmer & the Grand Theft Orchestra

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Amanda Palmer is an outlier, statistically speaking and otherwise. Forget for a minute her shirtless, painted-face, drummed-up piano blitzkriegs as the Weimar cabaret-punk duo Dresden Dolls. Theatre is Evil, Palmer's second solo record, materializes this week as the largest Kickstarter music project ever, a $1.2 million wish cast simultaneously by almost 25,000 benefactors. To the thousands of artists eking out $10,000 godsends every year, it may look like Palmer gamed the system, the crowd-funding equivalent of the St. Bernard Project rebuilding manses like those on St. Charles Avenue. In truth, the 36-year-old performer has been farther ahead of the recording industry's death-spiral curve than anyone except maybe Radiohead, a band that flies in its own stratosphere. Who Killed Amanda Palmer, her 2009 solo debut, moved about 35,000 units, but Palmer's reach — cultivated through curtain-pulling interactions on YouTube (where she posts just-written song ideas), Twitter (635,179 followers) and her website (open calls for "horn-y and string-y" volunteers for her fall tour), as well as in showy, direct fandemonium like her 2010 flash-mob wedding in New Orleans — exceeds the simple grasp of a spreadsheet. And Kickstarter, for all its charitable good, is just a clever form of advance sales: The New York Times reports that Theatre is Evil opens $100,000 in the black, a number unheard of for independent releases. "I would kill to make you feel/ I'd kill to move your face an inch," Palmer sneers on "The Killing Type," a promising first return on all those investments. No killing necessary, just a few clicks. Tickets $20 in advance, $22 day of show. — Noah Bonaparte Pais


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