Love Will Tear Us Apart (Musical Impressions Part II)

The week after I attended Marian Call’s house concert, I went to see another ensemble of talented, independent artists–this time a nontraditional performance in the traditional venue of the Park West.

Just as house concerts are bringing live music directly into people’s homes, so too is the internet; and Amanda Palmer is at the forefront, using twitter, blogging, and Ustream to break down some of the barriers between artists and their audiences.

Joined by Maryannerooney, Tabor330, Onesockshort, I had a fabulous view from a central table just off the main floor (thanks to the magic of Tabor), and we met up with Mcmatz who was in town for the Evelyn Evelyn show.

My husband had seen Evelyn Evelyn in Köln, Germany. Jetlagged on his first night back in Europe, he went straight from work and was able to catch the performance (thanks Neil) before hopping on a late train to return to his hotel in Frankfurt. He really enjoyed the show, especially Sxip Shirey’s performance.

When Evelyn Evelyn came to Chicago a month later, it was my turn.

In the first half of this theatrical music performance, Amanda Palmer and Jason Webley perform as a fictional set of conjoined twin sisters under the watchful eye of their handler (played by Sxip Shirey).

I’d heard the songs before (my kids LOVE Elephant Elephant): an album of show tunes, narration, a power ballad, and even a cover of Joy Division’s “Love Will Tear Us Apart.” However, more than just a collection of songs, Evelyn Evelyn is musical theater (complete with puppets), and it’s the personalities of the three artists involved that make the show successful and fun to watch.

The second half of the show featured solo sets by each artist, starting with Sxip Shirey who blew me away with his musical prowess. Innovative and sexy music from unexpected instruments: Sxip uses marbles in glass bowls, recycled bells and music boxes, horns and pennywhistles to make beautiful compositions. I was entranced, impressed, and instantly a fan.

Next Jason Webley took the stage with a voice that came booming out from somewhere deep inside what appears to be an ordinarily calm and unassuming exterior. I was unprepared for his music and utterly enchanted. Amanda Palmer joined him on the stage and after a few shared tunes, she turned to her own repertoire of playful and provocative songs that had many in the crowd singing along.

Photo by Christina Jones (@redbug138)

Amanda Palmer is an entertainer. She connects with the crowd, taps into their energy, and delivers her music in a way that makes it feel honest and personal. Her music is excellent, but it’s the personality and performance that set Amanda apart and endear her to her audience.

All three performers made their own particular brand of provocative music in the second set, and it was easy to see how these three could have been attracted to one another. Each artist has a quality of raw intensity and fearlessness in their music. The theatrics of the show were entertaining, but the authenticity of their work is what most impressed me. That’s what will keep me listening.

After the concert, Chicago singer-songwriter Molly Robison invited us over to her apartment, where they were having a little soiree because Sxip and Jason were crashing there for the night. There were tasty treats concocted by her roommate and much hospitality by her sister and friends.

Much of the time, I enjoy being in the thick of conversation. That night I had a comfy chair in the corner, a cup of tea, and was content to be the writer/mom-of-three-in-the-corner-who-didn’t-quite-fit-in-but-enjoyed-the-music-and-conversation-aflutter-around-me.

My favorite part of the night was when Molly Robison had the chance to play “Fake Plastic Trees” with Amanda, Jason, Sxip, and others. I know how much it meant to her, and she positively glowed. With that, I’ll share the video of the song and bid you good night.

Molly Robison and the Gang