9:29 p.m. x 2008-11-23
currently listening to: "bottom of the lake" by the builders and the butchers
saturday morning, lexi and i started out on our trip to recieve kara from her school and go to philadelphia to see vermillion lies, the builders and the butchers, and amanda palmer.
we made it to kutztown, where kara goes, but got turned around on an enormously long road, of which - in that area - there are many. we landed safely and, with kara, had mexican food and got ready to look decent but remain as warm as possible. it was frigid.
on our way out we got lost down another epic road, along which was nothing but empty stretches and the occasional house. also a diner distinguishable by the moustache on its sign, and when we go back next, we're making a special trip to this moustache diner.
we stoped at the first gas station we saw and so began the theme for that night: any time we were to stop somewhere, lost, asking for directions, no one working would understand my question/be of any help, but any time i stood around looking lost, someone on the street would wander up and tell me exactly, correctly where to go. in this case, a man buying gallons upon gallons of water told me to follow him, that he was headed to philadelphia and taking a route that would have, at the point we'd wandered from where we started, gotten us on our way much faster than to backtrack.
we made it to the freeway just fine thanks to him, but once we were past the toll, we got right to being lost once again. after a very long trot down the wrong exit, we got back on the highway and safely into center city. then it was my turn to sabotage things by freaking out about an exit sign.
to explain: in high school there was this obnoxious, pretentious kid who used to quote ben franklin like it was his job, preceding his every statement with "as ben franklin once said...". so with all that is ben franklin bleeding out the very eyes of the city, i was wigging out, and when we came to the ben franklin exit, lexi thought that meant she should turn onto it. i said no, no, but before i had a chance to explain why, she'd all ready turned onto the other exit. and lo, ben was the one we needed.
so we materialized in the very, very poor part of the city and wove through the streets looking for south street. later we were made very, very aware of the bright neon signs indicating "SOUTH STREET" that line it from the front, but you know what? there's none of that from the other side. it's just like looking for any other street. so that was interesting, and along the way we had encounters with some great personalities. we were supposed to meet duff in philadelphia, but he had to leave by the time we wound up there. it happened then that the person who ultimately led me to south street looked exactly like the girl he's been in love with for years.
once there, we parked in the wee parking lot, stood shivering between a linguist and some high schoolers in dense velvet before being let in pretty early. despite not being right up there in line, parents of kids proved to be doing a lot of padding and we worked our way right up.
vermillion lies were first and were, it is entirely possible, the most attractive pair of people i've ever seen in person. no single picture in existense does them justice and you will have to see for yourself, they are radiant and their voices carried their performance (which was otherwise the guitar, and sometimes a toolbox, marionette, accordion and tubdrum) into realms of unknown badass. this, though, i sort of expected.
the builders and the butchers BLEW ME THE FUCK AWAY. the cliche/capslock is completely called for. their first song, "bottom of the lake", they played with the danger ensemble's lyndon chester on violin, and it was a performance you could feel in your kneecaps. it came up from the floor. a good bit of the time when i see a band who i am unfamiliar with live, i spend most of their set trying to figure them out, respectfully marvelling, but the builders and the butchers made me dance. immediately. i trusted them to groove me in perpetuity, and it was a good decision.
both sets ended too soon, and that's saying volumes considering how batshit i was when amanda palmer came on. and that went like this:
throughout the show there was the recurring "she's dead" theme - the director of the danger ensemble (the performance art team that acted delightfully to several of amanda's songs) came out at the beginning to regretfully announce that she was deceased, the first two acts had been brought on to "bide time" for them to figure out what to do, etc. so when the time came, the danger ensemble floated onto the stage in the spirit of a funeral procession. neil gaiman's eulogy to amanda palmer crept ominously from the speakers. i became aware of something happening around me in the audience, then stepped aside to see amanda palmer stepping through the crowd with a white shroud over her. the loss of my mind was immediately visible to kara and lexi. the danger ensemble hoisted amanda palmer onto the stage as if she were a corpse and propped her at her piano, and then with a thundering of superdramatic lights and rumblings she erupted into reanimated splendor and "astronaut", and i screamed, full-throat. often.
i don't think i can remember the entire setlist. from her album, she played "astronaut", "runs in the family", "ampersand", "leeds united", "blake says", "strength through music", "guitar hero", and "have to drive", and from the dresden dolls' ouvre she played "mrs. o", "bad habit", "coin-operated boy", "girl anachronism" and "half jack". she covered "look mummy, no hands" by dillie keane and "creep" by radiohead on the ukelele (and vermillion lies she-boppin), and, naturally, lipsynched a riotous and more-than-perfect show-ender in "umbrella". i cried at the beginning of nearly every number. lyndon chester joined her on "half jack", and hearing that - my other favorite dresden dolls song (besides "good day", which i still have yet to hear live - i am talking to you, dolls) accompanied by the violin was indescribable. and "DEAR OLD HOUSE THAT I GREW UP IN".
every set went fast and smooth and it didn't feel like endless waiting between them, and after amanda's set was over it couldn't have been more than a minute, seriously, before the encore. there was also a precious "ask amanda" session, during which time amanda anwered out-of-a-hat questions we the fans posed to her via bits of paper passed to us while waiting in line. she did not answer my question but some much more interesting ones (including one that prompted the mention of dagmar krause, which made me explode).
i had a great view of her crotch the entire time.
the danger ensemble really added to the show, enhancing "have to drive" exorbitantly (it is an otherwise unmemorable track [for amanda palmer, you know]) and making "coin-operated boy" - which has been played to death - fun again. i could've made out with a member of the danger ensemble, but i'm not as quick witted as i make myself out to be, and the opportunity to pay him passed me by. but even when they were doing their thing in the middle of the crowd, i kept my eyes on ms. palmer, and that crotch of hers. it would not QUIT.
post-show, we malingered in the lobby, haggard and at our wits' end with lust, and chanting "om nom nom" we were so hungry. lexi was texting her boyfriend furiously as she stood beside the vermillion lies booth, and lo, there they stood - vermillion lies. so i smiled politely and told them what a wonderful performance, and lexi looked up and was reduced to something her former self would have used to wipe her windshield with. her carcass was propped between the ladies (of whom she is an enormous fan, obv) and kara took their picture. it was an adorable moment.
we proceeded then to limp up the stairs and wait in the massive line to get our accoutrements signed. we were on stairs in the far back corner of the venue which led up to the bar on the balcony. we made our way up the line nice and quick but by the time we came to amanda palmer the poor girl obviously wanted to, as they say, GTFO. i was honored that she signed my shirt and my album, because she was being hassled by security to please leave. kyle cassidy, the photographer who shot the album cover, was a gem, and he asked for my name and was infinitely kind in the nanominute we were polite strangers smiling at each other and really wishing to remain inside and not go back out into the cold, would do anything not to go back out into the cold.
while lexi and kara used the bathroom i watched the builders and the butchers put their gear away, by which i mean i checked them out and they have, unanimously, a fine set of rumps. we saw lyndon chester down the street and he's so cute and gracious it's unreal.
then we got lost again, winding around this set of streets for small eternities. we attempted to get sustainance/directions in a wawa, which made me so warm and complacent that for a fraction of a second i was a child again and didn't care about getting out of philadelphia. i spent a lot of time in wawas, a number of years ago. i had a blast. i also, i don't know if it has anything to do with the fact that i'm never the driver and i am such a wellspring of adrenaline and optimism when i need to be, but i never "just want to go home", as happens to so many people. if it'd just been me i would've (bought a map and) wandered the fuck out of philadelphia indefinitely. i prefer to be unencumbered by a vehicle, and i insist that any future roadtripping take advantage of the amtrak or greyhound or anything but a car. because:
when we got back to the car (to backtrack a step) after the concert, we found that the lights had been left on and the rear view mirrors were KICKED OUT. i was wound so tight with fear and rage, i can't even concieve of what levels of these emotions were rippling through lexi in that moment. but the car started and the mirrors were still intact (that is, not shattered, just popped out and in need of reinsertion). with the help of her boyfriend, we crawled out of philadelphia and made it to kutztown without a hitch.
numbly wobbling up to kara's room, she begrudged "i hope my roommate's not in there!", because she had explained about lexi and i staying there, asked if we could use her bed, etc. and everything had seemed square. and so we went into the room, and indeed, her roommate was not there,
and neither was her mattress.
lexi collapsed on the floor and i spooned with kara. we watched a few riotous scenes of "equus" and passed out cold. i couldn't move my legs this morning. i'm having recurring dreams about people in bear costumes of varying levels of sophistication.
we made it all the way home without getting lost once. and now i am back at school for essentially a DAY. tomorrow. i'm going back home tuesday right after fiction.
now there's a fire drill. it is, presently, one twenty-six in the morning. i'm going to finish this entry and say "fuck you" to this fire drill business by crawling into my bed, with its mattress, and SLEEPING in spite of it all.
if anybody should ask i'm going to a seminar
pieces of the moon
sensitive heart, you're doomed from the start