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Goofy Goth Burlesque with the Dresden Dolls

We live in the age of the geek, where no matter how obscure your pop-culture obsession, you can find a community of people on the internet which shares your passion. In the heyday of Deadheads, the insular world of hardcore fans was a curiosity. Today, with the big-money music industry falling apart, it’s vitally important. Every band needs to cultivate its cult audience if it wants to survive.

Few bands do this better than the Dresden Dolls. The duo has described their music as “Brechtian punk cabaret,” but “goofy Goth burlesque” is probably closer to the mark. Whatever it is, it’s clever and funny and sometimes even moving, and it’s always performed with skill and verve. But Amanda Palmer and Brian Viglione make sure that the show is not all about them or their songs. They invite fans to help design their merch or to join the show: with their own burlesque act or by walking on stilts or posing as human statues or...

Corny? Yes. But I’m sure the fans would say that even if it is corny and potentially embarrassing, being part of the show beats paying $300 a ticket to sit and watch Mick Jagger on a JumboTron. In any case, it seems to work: the fans follow the Dolls’ every move. And Palmer has given them a lot to follow lately: this year she released an album of Radiohead songs performed on ukulele, and she married writer/geek-idol Neil Gaiman. This tour is billed as a reunion, though the Dolls have only been away for a couple of years. To Dresden Dolls fans, it’s as if the Smiths got back together.

DRESDEN DOLLS: House of Blues, Thursday, December 30, 7 p.m. 619-299-2583. $22.

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We live in the age of the geek, where no matter how obscure your pop-culture obsession, you can find a community of people on the internet which shares your passion. In the heyday of Deadheads, the insular world of hardcore fans was a curiosity. Today, with the big-money music industry falling apart, it’s vitally important. Every band needs to cultivate its cult audience if it wants to survive.

Few bands do this better than the Dresden Dolls. The duo has described their music as “Brechtian punk cabaret,” but “goofy Goth burlesque” is probably closer to the mark. Whatever it is, it’s clever and funny and sometimes even moving, and it’s always performed with skill and verve. But Amanda Palmer and Brian Viglione make sure that the show is not all about them or their songs. They invite fans to help design their merch or to join the show: with their own burlesque act or by walking on stilts or posing as human statues or...

Corny? Yes. But I’m sure the fans would say that even if it is corny and potentially embarrassing, being part of the show beats paying $300 a ticket to sit and watch Mick Jagger on a JumboTron. In any case, it seems to work: the fans follow the Dolls’ every move. And Palmer has given them a lot to follow lately: this year she released an album of Radiohead songs performed on ukulele, and she married writer/geek-idol Neil Gaiman. This tour is billed as a reunion, though the Dolls have only been away for a couple of years. To Dresden Dolls fans, it’s as if the Smiths got back together.

DRESDEN DOLLS: House of Blues, Thursday, December 30, 7 p.m. 619-299-2583. $22.

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