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Photo by Liz Linder

(CD Release),
The Paradise 9/26/03

It's The Dresden Dolls' CD release show, and anyone who didn't already know can tell from the street that this is no ordinary band--The Paradise's awning is adorned with hanging vines, and the throng outside is a churning kaleidoscope of satin, feathers, body paint, and geometrically impossible haircuts. Some of the ceremoniously festooned are just smoking or catching some air, but many are hoping for tickets; this event is sold out, babycakes. Inside, girls in shimmery ball gowns mince around with ultra-mod Hecubus-thin boys. The balcony's crimson mood lights flash against Borg-like face piercings. Living statues, painted faces, surreal art installations, performance art, a comedian, and naked people are among the attractions in this sideshow-meets-rock event that Amanda Palmer and Brian Viglione have created.

Count Zero, for the first time with the ubiquitous Izzy Maxwell on bass, take the reigns of the room's energy and steer it right into a frenzy. Peter Moore, ably assisted by the confident Wil Ragano, is the consummate showman, and the pair lead this outstanding band through a too-short set of edgy progressive rock. Swirling easily from spacey jams into straight-ahead rock grooves, Count Zero prove once again that intelligence and risk taking are valuable commodities if you want to stand out.

Dresden Dolls employ the delayed gratification tease to great effect, making us wait a good long time before the lights dim and Brian and Amanda take their place at drums and keyboard respectively. Assisted on some songs by guest musicians, the Dolls meander, bolt, and scream through every song on the much-anticipated CD. Handsome white-faced Brian tickles gentle brushwork or has it out with the cymbals as needed. Amanda captivates and titillates, shifting gears from manic wails to whispers so quiet that a reverent hush envelops the entire sold-out room. Legendary. I buy a poster on my way out, because Dresden Dolls will be eligible for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2028. (Lexi)

The Paradise 9/26/03

It's The Dresden Dolls' record release ball. This means that, in addition to the bands, we get art installations (one of which is showing the amazing video for "Girl Anachronism" that they've just finished shooting) and slapstick raunch-Dada from The Daredevil Chicken Club. Bananas are fellated, the audience is berated, and a sex doll's role is complicated. It's also the best-dressed audience I've ever seen at a rock show. By the time Count Zero go on, the room is packed. I'm a huge Count Zero fan, and I expect them to go over well with a Dresden Dolls crowd, but people mostly seem impatient for the main event. This is a shame, as CZ put on a great show. If there's a problem, it's that they front-load with older and slower songs. This is their first show with new bassist Izzy Maxwell, but if I didn't know that I'd have no way to tell from his playing. He has tremendous stage presence, leaping over the monitor when the bass enters in the middle of "Bachelor #3," plays difficult lines beautifully, and they actually play "Indulgences," with its insanely hard bass part. We also get "Good News," which always makes me happy, as Peter Moore's vocal gymnastics on this song are inspirational.

After an odd interlude from a standup comic (!) and more Daredevil Chicken Club, the Dolls come on to thunderous applause. They play all the songs from the new album, several of them in a four-piece arrangement with added guitar and bass. There are some sound issues early on--the mic on Brian's floor tom buzzes horribly--but they're worked out by mid-set. Brian and Amanda are both really on tonight, and seem to feed off the intense adoration from the audience. They close the set with a version of "Truce" that has violin and cello, and it's gorgeous. For the encore, we're treated to a scream-along cover of "Add It Up," followed by "Girl Anachronism" (minus one verse), and they are dragged back onstage by an insistent crowd for one newer song. Amanda's voice holds up well through a long and arduous set. It's a beautiful night for them, and the album looks and sounds fantastic. (Steve Gisselbrecht)