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Dresden Dolls
Axis
December 31, 2003

by Alan Haworth

It was difficult to discern the performers from the concertgoers Wednesday night at club Axis on Boston’s historic Landsdowne Street across from the Fenway park. Inside the dark club, everyone was wearing a mask and formal attire. On the stage an instrumental ensemble made up of accordion, drums, saxophone and oboe played a German cabaret style of music. Most importantly, the Crook and Pin Theatrical Society filled the room with constant activity, role playing, and mini-operas. There hasn’t been this much fanfare and revelry since the early Flaming Lips concerts.

Four seconds before midnight, the emcee stormed the stage, counted down the new year, and exited with the white curtain falling to the floor. The youthful duo known as the Dresden Dolls began pounding out “New Year’s Day,” an appropriate cover for his band of goths who grew up listening to U2. Wearing black and white tights, Amanda Palmer pounded a keyboard, which was entangled in roses. She had painted her face white in true goth style.

The Dresden Dolls didn’t disappoint with original material, delivering “Girl Anachornism” and “Backstabber” in the first set. She also included the darkly funny “Jeep Song” that has a lovelorn girl sing, “i can't wait til you trade that fucker in / by then they will have stuck me in the looney bin.”

Brian Viglione came out from behind the drum kit, clad only in a black bowler hat and a pair of black pants to play guitar. They were accompanied on stage by the accordion player turn of the century dance hall classic set in New Amsterdam. The crowd loved it and could have stood for a few more old country dance numbers.

The Dresden Dolls returned behind the keyboard and drums with a few long, slow numbers that drowned in their own self-loathing influences. The audience dwindled and stopped dancing until Amanda brought back the fun with “Coin-Operated Boy.” Her Pinocchio tale resonated well in the German dance hall mood, exhibiting the hurky-jerky piano-drum combination. She even changed the words to say “I can even fuck him in the bath!”

The Dresden Dolls started the night off with a cover song, an unexpected move by a relatively unknown indie band, who is daring enough to unwind the normal state of events. Amanda and Brian delivered a heavy dose of material that was not included on their debut album, which was a nice presentation for those expecting to hear a replay of the 12 CD tracks. Appropriately, they encored with “Good Day,” a song that sounds like Tori Amos’s early material. Amanda Palmer describes a depressed woman who can barely find the energy to take out the trash, with the chorus “I’m on fire!” This was a great end to an almost perfect night of music and theatrical performance. New Year’s Eve in the doll house was spooky, unpredictable, and lively; almost like a haunted house on Halloween. Don’t miss the Dresden Dolls the next time they “wind up” in your town.