Theatre Is Evil

Theatre Is Evil
Studio album by Amanda Palmer & The Grand Theft Orchestra
Released September 7, 2012 (2012-09-07)
Genre Glam rock
Length 71:16
Label 8 Ft. Records
Producer John Congleton
Amanda Palmer & The Grand Theft Orchestra chronology
Amanda Palmer Goes Down Under
Theatre Is Evil
Singles from Theatre Is Evil
  1. "Do It With a Rockstar"
    Released: June 2012

Theatre Is Evil is a studio album by Amanda Palmer & The Grand Theft Orchestra produced by John Congleton. It was released on September 7, 2012 in Australia,[1] on September 10, 2012 in the United Kingdom and Europe, and September 11, 2012 in the United States and Canada.[2] The album has been released by Palmer's own record label, 8 Ft. Records, with distribution handled by Cooking Vinyl in the UK and Europe, and Alliance Entertainment in the US.[3][4]

The album has been written over the four years since she made her solo debut with Who Killed Amanda Palmer in 2008, and the recording and release process was funded by a Kickstarter project that raised a total of over $1.2 million.[5][6][7][8]

The song "Do It With a Rockstar" was released on a limited basis to promote the album in June 2012,[9] followed by "Trout Heart Replica", "Want It Back" and "The Killing Type".

An art book, filled with images inspired by the content of this album commissioned to artists Amanda knows, has been released.

About the Grand Theft Orchestra

The Grand Theft Orchestra is composed of Amanda Palmer, Michael McQuilken on drums, guitarist Chad Raines, and Jherek Bischoff on bass.[10] Thor Harris replaced McQuilken for the second half of the live tour of this album.[11] The band regularly switches instruments during their live performance, including in their version of The Dresden Dolls's song, "Missed Me".[12]

Critical reception

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Review scores
The Guardian[14]
Drowned in Sound[15]
The Independent[16]
Beats Per Minute(78%)[19]

On July 11, 2012, Ben Folds, fellow friend, producer and musician, posted the very first review of Theatre is Evil on his Facebook page, stating that he was "listening to 'Theatre is Evil' everyday, more than once. It's good. It's really good," and in summary that, "This record is as good as it gets. You're going to shit when you hear it. It's going to be around for ages. Otherwise, it's total crap."[20][21]

Numerous reviews have been released since then. Richard Marcus, of Music Review, stated "I think I'm being quite honest when I say I've not heard anything like this disc before. [...] It felt like listening to the soundtrack from some wonderfully anarchic musical. Something set in a basement night club in Paris during the decadent desperate period just before a war, any war. [...] Theatre is Evil is far more dangerous than the music you normally hear, but it lets you know you're alive."[22] Kate Mossman, of The Guardian, wrote "Theatre Is Evil feels like sitting on the bed of your tattooed, far cooler cousin 30 years ago, while she tells you 'all you need to know' about music."[23] Adam Rathe, of Spin, wrote "If Theatre Is Evil does anything, it should make clear that [Amanda] Palmer's not just a fundraiser par excellence but someone who's energized enough people with her work to be able to create exactly the kind of record that makes people love music in the first place."[24]


The album was crowdfunded by $1,192,793.00 pledged via Kickstarter. Backers could choose from a number of bundles offered for different investment amounts.[25] At the time it closed, this was the most successful Kickstarter campaign by any musician.[25]

Music videos

The first music video released for this album, was a stop motion video for the song "Want It Back" and features Amanda Palmer prominently nude on a bed with the rest of the band mates, clothed, as the lyrics to the song crawl across their bodies. It was "filmed on and around Brunswick Street in Melbourne, Australia in March 2012" and was produced, edited, and directed by Jim Batt.[26]

The second music video was for "The Killing Type," directed by Tim Pope, who had previously directed many videos for The Cure. It features scenes from the band playing in an all white room, dressed in all white clothes, playing all white instruments and another scene where Amanda seems to contemplate killing her lover while in bed with him.[27] A music video for "The Bed Song" was also shot as part of the band's residency at Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York, which was the first residency in a new program led by Gideon Lester, to have artists do their work with student assistance on-campus. The video was released February 14, 2013.

Amanda Palmer has also released lyric videos for every song on the main disc of "Theatre Is Evil" on her YouTube channel.[28]


Palmer planned an extensive tour schedule in support of the album. In June 2012, Amanda Palmer and the Grand Theft Orchestra began with a short six-date stint of small club shows throughout Europe and the US, beginning in Berlin and ending in Boston.[29] A full-scale tour began on September 10, 2012, this time reaching 33 cities throughout North America and Europe.[30] According to Palmer's husband, she plans to spend approximately 14 months on the road in support of "Theatre is Evil," though not yet confirmed by her official schedule.[31]


A controversy arose at the start of the full-scale tour, when Palmer crowdsourced volunteer horn and string players among her fans to back the Grand Theft Orchestra onstage for a few songs in each city. She was criticized, most notably by Steve Albini, who questioned her for asking for further indulgences from her audience.[32] Palmer had explained that most of the Kickstarter money was actually spent on covering the cost of creating the album, producing and shipping the rewards, and setting up the tour.[33] Albini called the breakdown "absurdly inefficient".[32]

On September 14, 2012, following an article in the New York Times[34][35] Palmer wrote on her blog that she considered the issue to be about artists' choice more than anything else.[36]

On September 19, 2012, Palmer announced that she had decided to pay the volunteer musicians. This included retroactive payment to volunteers at the start of the tour.[37]


After posting the album name to her Twitter account, there was a debate amongst fans about whether the album should be spelled "Theater Is Evil" or "Theatre Is Evil". Palmer took a vote and "Theatre is Evil" eventually won,[38] causing some of the CDs to have to be reprinted.


Amanda Palmer & The Grand Theft Orchestra

Guest musicians


Track listing

All tracks written by Amanda Palmer, except where noted. 

No. TitleWriter(s) Length
1. "Meow Meow Introduces The Grand Theft Orchestra"    0:18
2. "Smile (Pictures or It Didn't Happen)"    6:28
3. "The Killing Type"    4:29
4. "Do It with a Rockstar"    4:25
5. "Want It Back"    4:09
6. "Grown Man Cry"    5:16
7. "Trout Heart Replica"    7:09
8. "A Grand Theft Intermission"  Jherek Bischoff 2:07
9. "Lost"    4:31
10. "Bottomfeeder"    6:13
11. "The Bed Song"    6:07
12. "Massachusetts Avenue"    4:40
13. "Melody Dean"    4:02
14. "Berlin"    7:17
15. "Olly Olly Oxen Free"    4:06

Selections from Theatre is Evil

Before the release of the album, Palmer sent a free 3-track digital download EP to fans through her newsletter, titled "Selection from Theatre is Evil" featuring three promotional singles.

All tracks written by Amanda Palmer, except where noted. 

No. TitleWriter(s) Length
1. "Want It Back"    4:09
2. "Trout Heart Replica"    7:09
3. "Do It With A Rockstar"    4:25


  1. "Theatre Is Evil | CD & DVD Music, Music Genres, Alternative : JB HI-FI". Retrieved 2012-09-12.
  2. Amanda Palmer (2012-02-15). "next we take is left burning. (PLUS: TRACKLIST REVEALED! TOUR DATES COMING!)". Amanda Palmer. Retrieved 2012-08-07.
  3. "Amanda Palmer signs distribution and services deal with Cooking Vinyl". Music Week. June 21, 2012. Retrieved June 29, 2012.
  4. "Alliance Entertainment to Distribute New Album from Amanda Palmer, Social Media's Musical Queen; Theatre Is Evil to be Released September 11, 2012". The Sacramento Bee. June 27, 2012. Retrieved June 29, 2012.
  5. "Amanda Palmer: The new RECORD, ART BOOK, and TOUR". Kickstarter. Retrieved June 29, 2012.
  6. "Amanda Palmer Raises Over 1.1 Million Via Kickstarter, Announces New Album Title Theatre is Evil". June 3, 2012. Retrieved June 29, 2012.
  7. Price, Simon (June 24, 2012). "Amanda Palmer, Village Underground, London". The Independent. Retrieved June 29, 2012.
  8. "Busking for millions". The Economist. June 5, 2012. Retrieved June 29, 2012.
  9. "DOWNLOAD: New Amanda Palmer Track". The Quietus. June 18, 2012. Retrieved June 29, 2012.
  10. Holly Cara Price (2012-11-09). "Amanda Palmer: The Crancing Queen". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 2014-05-22.
  11. Amanda Palmer (April 2, 2013). "the GRAND THEFT "MAKE-UP" TOUR DATES are UP!! (A BLOG ABOUT THE UPCOMING SEASON OF EVIL)". Retrieved 2014-05-22.
  12. Amanda Palmer and the Grand Theft Orchestra – at The Fillmore Auditorium – San Francisco, CA, The Big Wheel Magazine of 26 September 2012, retrieved January 6, 2013 "Palmer and her band switched gears and sauntered into a roaring, mind blowing performance of the Dresden Dolls' song "Missed Me", which saw all four members of the Grand Theft Orchestra switching their instruments for each verse and throwing each other about in their haste to do so."
  13. "Critic Reviews for Theatre Is Evil". Metacritic. Retrieved 2012-09-12.
  14. Kate Mossman (6 September 2012). "Amanda Palmer & the Grand Theft Orchestra: Theatre Is Evil – review". London: The Guardian.
  15. Chris Trout (7 September 2012). "Amanda Palmer - Theatre is Evil". Drowned in Sound.
  16. Simon Trout (9 September 2012). "Album: Amanda Palmer, Theatre Is Evil (Cooking Vinyl)". London: The Independent.
  17. Morad Moazami (12 September 2012). "Amanda Palmer's Vaudevillian Theatre of Sound: 'Theatre Is Evil' Review". Antiquiet.
  18. Christopher, James. "Theatre is Evil". Allmusic. Retrieved 2012-09-16.
  19. Finlayson, Ray. "Theatre is Evil". Beats Per Minute. Retrieved 2012-10-04.
  20. "Ben Folds". Facebook. Retrieved 2012-09-12.
  21. "ben folds gives "theatre is evil" its first review". Amanda Palmer. 2012-07-13. Retrieved 2012-09-14.
  22. "Music Review: Amanda Palmer & The Grand Theft Orchestra - Theatre Is Evil - Blogcritics Music". 2012-09-08. Retrieved 2012-09-12.
  23. Kate Mossman (2012-09-07). "Amanda Palmer & the Grand Theft Orchestra: Theatre Is Evil – review | Music |". London: Guardian. Retrieved 2012-09-12.
  24. Rathe, Adam (2012-09-05). "Amanda Palmer on Where the Alchemy Starts and Selling Stops | SPIN | Profiles". SPIN. Retrieved 2012-09-12.
  25. 1 2 Reed, James (July 26, 2012), "Fans kick in a million to let Palmer make music her way", Boston Globe
  26. "Amanda Palmer & The Grand Theft Orchestra: "Want It Back" Official Music Video (Uncensored | NSFW)". YouTube. 2012-07-10. Retrieved 2012-09-12.
  27. "Amanda Palmer - The Killing Type". YouTube. 2012-09-06. Retrieved 2012-09-12.
  28. "Theatre Is Evil Lyric Videos". YouTube. Retrieved 2012-09-12.
  29. Amanda Palmer (2012-05-01). "Amanda Palmer: The new RECORD, ART BOOK, and TOUR". Retrieved 2014-05-21.
  30. "Wanted: Horn-y and String-y Volunteers for the Grand Theft Orchestra Tour!!!!", Amanda Palmer (blog), August 21, 2012
  31. "If you are anywhere near Bard, come and be my Guinea Pig", Neil Gaiman (blog), 2012-08-28
  32. 1 2 Michael Nelson (September 13, 2012). "Steve Albini: Amanda Palmer Is An Idiot". Stereogum. Retrieved 2014-05-22.
  33. Amanda Palmer (May 22, 2012). "all you ever wanted to know about all this kickstarter money & where it's going.". Retrieved 2014-05-22.
  34. Wakin, Daniel J. (2012-09-12). "Rockers Playing for Beer: Fair Play?". photo by Jude Domski/Getty Images. The New York Times Company (published September 13, 2012). pp. C1,C6. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2012-09-16.
  35. Palmer, Amanda (2012-09-13). "poetic placement of the day: the new york times...". Amandapalmer.Tumblr.Com. Amanda Palmer. Retrieved 2012-09-18. Mostly a picture of page C1 the NY Times with the cited article on September 13, 2012
  36. Inviting performers to join her onstage is a time-honored tradition in the vein of sharing joy and having fun. The three main performers in Grand Theft Orchestra are salaried. In some cities, horn and string players will be hired as "known quantities" while other venues will have volunteer "wild cards.""an open letter in response to amy, re: musicians, volunteering, and the freedom to choose.". Amanda Palmer. 2012-09-13. Retrieved 2012-09-18.
  37. "what we're doing about the crowdsourced musicians. also: we charted at motherfucking #10.". Amanda Palmer. 2012-09-13. Retrieved 2012-10-01.
  38. "Countdown Party & Album Title!!!!!". 2 June 2012. Retrieved 16 September 2012.
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