Amanda Palmer has caught a lot of flak in the past few years for her seemingly iconoclastic ways. From raising a then-unprecedented 1.2 million dollars to finance her album via Kickstarter to then putting out a call to local musicians to perform with her for free at tour stops across the country, Palmer has become a polarizing figure who's inspired and incensed people in equal measures.
So much has been made of the merits of her communal approach to business that it's easy to overlook the very real connection she's made with her fans, all of whom seem more than happy to step up and serve as her benefactors. We've seen no clearer example of this than in this video of Palmer performing at a house (well, apartment club house, rather) show somewhere in Denver earlier this year.
In the past couple weeks, we've posted a feature about the viability of home shows, and spoke to David Bazan and Will Johnson, who each offered their perspectives, but when you watch this clip, you'll see precisely first hand why the prospect of playing these intimate home shows is so attractive to touring musicians.
In addition to some grin-inducing moments featuring the Boulder Bassoon Quartet playing "Don't Stop Believing" while Palmer Googles the lyrics on her phone and then sings along sitting on a couch, the nine and a half minute video above shows just how invested her fans actually are and how they've bonded and formed new friendships based initially on her music, and it also gives some insight into Palmer's perspective.
Continue on to see Palmer playing for a few of her Denver fans
"The way I grew up, the way I listened to music in my teen years, I didn't listen to any pop music," Palmer says to her fans gathered around her and listening intently. "The bands that I worshipped were so unknown and so cool and so under the radar -- I just wanted to be them.
"I wanted to be the Legendary Pink Dots," she goes on. "I wanted to be SWANS. I wanted to, like, make music that touched a core of people who were like, 'We understand you.' I never wanted to, like, cut through to find the universal pulse of the Madonna mainstream. It was never even an ingredient in there. The minute I start taking instruction from my critics, I will fail. That's what it really comes down to."
It's much deeper than that for the fans. "It's about how human she makes herself, and how she honestly, earnestly wants to connect with people and wants to meet people," says one gal towards the end of the clip. "And she attracts people like that."
"Amanda Palmer saved my life," declares another fan. "I got her name tattooed on me, her signature, on New Year's, because I struggled with cutting and a really shitty home situation and she was always there for me. It was like I could just go to her."
"The music hits a spot that I've been in so many times, like even the dark, depressing stuff," notes another fan, who later tells Palmer on camera, "To be able to write the music you write, You have to have felt what we feel, and all I can do when I'm there is lie in bed. So thank you for making art."