Over the Weekend: The Dresden Dolls at the Granada Theater

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The Dresden Dolls
The Granada Theater
November 19, 2010

Better Than: Watching a midnight screening of Cabaret at the Granada, which, hey, might not be that bad of an idea...

Amanda Fucking Palmer - as she introduced herself to the crowd earlier in the night -perched herself on the balcony of the Granada Theater overlooking the densely packed crowd. With one gloved hand leaning on the balcony ledge, and the other holding her mic Palmer vamped her way through The Dresden Dolls' acoustic take on "Mein Herr" from Cabaret.

Palmer seductively crooned the lines from the balcony, with Brian Viglione on stage slowly accompanying her on his acoustic guitar. As Viglione started strumming faster, Palmer descended the stairs - flanked, naturally, by Granada security. Palmer touched hands with a few audience members before climbing atop one of the mid-theater bars to belt out a few more lines, before finally making her way back to the stage for the song's closing moments.

More than an hour earlier, a chanting, full house anxiously awaited the Dresden Dolls, the show opened with Palmer and Viglione gallivanting around the stage, tossing bouquets of flowers into the crowd, which had been cheering wildly at every hint of the band on stage. The duo was not sporting their white, doll-like face paint. Instead, Palmer wore a black bra, trousers and a military officer's hat. Palmer looked every bit like Charlotte Rampling in The Night Porter. Viglione wore a Bowler hat and a sleeveless vest - both of which came off only a couple songs into the set.

The band opened its set with a bitter-sweet rendition of T.Rex's "Cosmic Dancer." As soon as the song ended, Palmer took to her keyboard and for a forceful performance of "Good Day." Much of the crowd sang along. Halfway through, Viglione stood up in a dramatic- bowing gesture, removed his hat, twirled it a little, tossed it and went back to furiously drumming.

Throughout the show, Viglione pantomimed, made faces, and gave his drumsticks a life of their own: they fluttered in the air like a bird, or swirled in his hand. There were no special effects, no lasers, no monitors, or a dozen costume changes. It was smoke and lights. It was just the two of them, but the performance felt every bit like a full-on cabaret show. They owned it with a dramatic delivery of its songs, back-and-forth banter via pantomiming, and overall theatrical aesthetic.

And while the band played material from each of its albums, and even a few songs from Palmers recent solo-project, this was a night made memorable by the captivating covers. I still can't get "Cosmic Dancer" out of my head.

Critic's Notebook

Random Note: A good number of the crowd had clearly shopped a time or two at Hot Topic, as there were top hats, Bowlers, zippers, platform shoes, theatrical face makeup, and leather galore.

Personal Bias: This was my first time seeing The Dresden Dolls live, so I was pretty excited about the show.

By The Way: San Antonio's all-girl-punkabilly act Girl in a Coma opened, and the crowd seemed to enjoy their set.

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