Punk cabaret band takes over Brooklyn

    A crowd of 5,000 gathered outside the Ford Amphitheater at Coney Island in Brooklyn, N.Y., last month. Everyone was there to witness the reunion of The Dresden Dolls. The band broke up in 2007, but returned in August to perform two reunion shows.

    The band consists of Amanda Palmer, who is a member of the LGBT community, and Brian Viglione. Palmer plays the keyboard and sings, while Viglione primarily plays the drums and occasionally the guitar. They coined the term “punk cabaret,” as their music has a punk edge, but also a very dramatic and rich sound.

    Before the concert, volunteer street performers stood around the venue entertaining the concert-goers. Living statues, singers and a tarot-card reader entranced the fans. This is a common practice from the early days of The Dresden Dolls when the volunteers were known as “the Brigade.”

    The audience sported dark clothes and eccentric makeup, emulating the style of The Dolls. Some wore Victorian-style corsets and suits, while many preferred the black-and-white-striped tights worn by Palmer.

    The opening act was PWR BTTM, a queer-core punk band composed of Liv Bruce and Ben Hopkins. They came onstage in lovely floor-length dresses and glitter-streaked faces. After cracking a few jokes, they began their set with an ear-splitting guitar riff, and launched into a series of upbeat songs off their album “Ugly Cherries.” They sang about falling in love with straight men (“West Texas”) and discussing your sexuality with your parents (“Serving Goffman”). The crowd responded positively to their strong vocals and lighthearted attitudes.

    Palmer and Viglione soon took their places. The stage was remarkably bare, and the two were seated opposite one another. As The Dolls started playing, their old chemistry was rekindled. Their eyes locked from across the stage, and they played as if they were 10 years younger in the midst of The Dolls’ golden age. Palmer attacked the keyboard with hands like claws, pounding out dissonant but harmonious tunes. Viglione kept the rhythm with equal violence, both of their faces contorted in concentration. They mostly sang their classics, such as “Missed Me” and “The Jeep Song.” In addition, they jokingly dedicated a cover of “War Pigs” by Black Sabbath to Donald Trump.

    The Dolls aren’t afraid to be political or controversial, as they sing about personal topics such as divorce (“Half Jack”), or even a jazzy number about abortion (“Mandy Goes to Med School”).

    Throughout the concert, the crowd screamed and cheered for the wonderful display of talent and raw emotion. The lights flashed wildly, accentuating each drumbeat. Palmer’s deep voice leapt from a whisper to practically a yell in a matter of seconds. The duo eventually left the stage, only to return for two encores.

    The Dresden Dolls put on a wonderful show. Before the final song, the band declared that they have future plans to play together. The world will surely see more of the Dresden Dolls.

    Eliana Berson, 16, is a junior at Abington Senior High School. She is considering a college degree in English or social studies, with a minor in musical theater.

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