Last Thursday afternoon I got a phone call from my friend Josh telling me that Amanda Palmer was doing something at Gowanus Ballroom starting around 6.30pm. So I hot footed it down to Josh’s amazing space with no idea Amanda Palmer was just about to change the rules of the music business forever.
Over the last couple of months she has run the most successful Kickstarter campaign yet and raised $1,192,793. And she was only looking for $100,000. She raised over $35,000 just in the last two hours of the campaign.
She has shown the world that it’s possible for a very independent musician who has always gone her own way and never courted the mainstream to become entirely self-funded. In short, she has given hope to every musician who wonders how they can possibly make a living in todays digital download world.
Her husband, author Neil Gaiman, flew in from LA to join Amanda and her friends and audience and support his wife in her momentous triumph.The Slavic Soul Party came from just down the road and entertained the audience whilst they waited for Amanda and the Grand Theft Orchestra to start their live streaming performance.
Amanda made sure everybody in the audience sent out the live streaming hashtag via email, twitter and text on their phones to help build the audience out in the world.
As mentioned in yesterdays blog, the audience had been asked to dress up or come as statues which Galatea had succeeded in doing as she is a professional living statue.
The broadcast was delayed by about an hour as there were serious technical problems. All the hi tech cameras and equipment that had been hired for the 5 hour live streaming broadcast refused to work. Which caused some serious headaches for everybody involved.
Amanda decided to entertain the audience whilst they waited and stood precariously on a chair clutching her ukelele. And asked the audience to suggest songs she could do for them.
The audience was delighted. Almost as delighted as she was to find herself in this magical situation.
The technical problems were finally overcome when it was decided to simply run everything through the Apple Mac camera in the laptop, so Hayley Rosenblum from Team Amanda Palmer became Computer Camera Girl. And did a great job of following Amanda wherever she went.
She started the broadcast with an impromptu ukelele scat on the technical issues that had caused the delay and then launched into the mighty Ukelele Anthem, which opens with one of the best verses I’ve heard in ages:
Sid Vicious played a four-string Fender Bass guitar and couldn’t sing
And everybody hated him except the ones who loved him
A ukelele has four strings, but Sid did not play ukelel
He did smack and probably killed his girlfriend Nancy Spungen.
© Amanda Palmer
(nb: I just watched the beginning of the broadcast and noticed that I’m in the background wearing the Top Hat and camera).
She jumped down from the chair when she was finished and the DJ started playing the Live Aid theme song ‘We Are The World’ by USA For Africa as Amanda and the three boys stripped down to 1920’s striped swimwear in preparation for entry into the Bubble Truck which had been built by Josh and his crew.
Amanda and members of Team Amanda Palmer had written the names of all 24,000+ backers into phone books with black sharpies. God knows how long it took them. Must have been a while. Once in the Bubble Truck they started ripping out the pages and sticking them up against the plastic so they could be seen on the webcam by the live streaming audience.
Amanda was particularly delighted when she found a page with her name on it. And got seriously into the spirit of things.
At periodic intervals Amanda would check how many backers had registered and how much money had been pledged and with two hours to go she walked around carrying this sign for a minute. And then, like so many other pieces of paper that evening, it got trampled underfoot. (I came out later and found Josh cleaning up the last of the garbage in the parking lot. He did a great job).
Tired of only showing the phone book pages from within the Bubble Truck, Amanda would step out with her intrepid assistant, the very cool and aptly named Super Kate and hand out pages to members of the audience so they could show them to the webcam.
I started a conversation with Ruth in the parking lot that night because she was wearing a much cooler Top Hat than mine. And it turned out it was her birthday and she is a huge Amanda Palmer fan. So much so that she had travelled from New jersey to be there that night. And was going to the After Party too. As it’s her birthday weekend, I thought I’d post this picture of her showing her serious face to the world as she presents the name of one of Amanda’s backers to the webcam. And of course, Amanda was totally hamming it up all night long with an attitude and grin that a cheshire cat would find inspiring.
At the same time that Amanda was performing out in the parking lot for internet world, the interior of the cavernous Gowanus Ballroom had been turned into an amazing fire performance by the remarkable Chris Flambeaux. I met Chris a few months ago and was delighted to discover we both used to be members of the Mutoid Waste Co. . I am going to be posting more pictures from his inspiring fire show in this blog tomorrow.
We were all living in Josh’s world on Thursday night, as he found the Gowanus Ballroom two years ago when he was looking for a workshop space for his business, Serett Metalworks. Josh is the metalwork genius of NYC. We originally met when I first arrived in NYC seven years ago. I was sub-letting a room in his then girlfriends big loft space in the legendary 255 McKibbin building. We immediately recognised one another as kindred spirits and he is now my oldest friend in NYC. Kristin is an excellent artist and they’ve been together, both domestically and professionally for a while now. They are a perfect match and work well together. If you live in NYC and need a cool space to create an event or party of any kind, go look at Gowanus Ballroom because it is one of the coolest spaces in New York City.
A variety of artists are based out of Gowanus Ballroom, including performer Chris Flambeaux and artist Adrian Landon, who built these incredible horses at the age of 21.
Amanda wrapped up her show at midnight and moved on to the very cool new Gemini & Scorpio Loft Space just down the road, where she played a killer show for a select few backers and friends. I will be posting more pictures from that show over the next couple of days, so come back and see some more then.