With just a few hours’ notice to her fans, performer Amanda Palmer managed to draw more than 100 fans to the historic Bethesda theater Wednesday night for what she calls a “ninja gig.” A low-key, free affair meant to reward a loyal fanbase, it offered her a chance to perform beyond tonight’s highly structured Evelyn Evelyn gig at the 9:30 Club. Last night, as she will be tonight, Palmer was joined on stage by Jason Webley–the Evelyn to her Evelyn, their Siamese twin singers–and Sxip Shirley, a New York-based storyteller and wickedly talented harmonicist, who joins the Evelyn Evelyn family as the twins’ manager. It’s no coincidence that these three all have backgrounds drenched in cabaret performances, busking and all things theatrical.
Under the watchful eye of both her management and the clubs where she is scheduled to perform, Palmer’s free gigs are also a semi-desperate attempt to sell tickets. She and Webley are both used to selling tons of tickets based on their names alone–Palmer’s sold out the 9:30 club plenty of times–but touring as Evelyn Evelyn they’ve lost that name recognition and, as of a few days ago, had only sold a few hundred tickets to tonight’s show. So last night included an impassioned plea to the audience to buy a ticket for tonight’s show and to spread the word; she and Webley commanded her army to spend a few minutes during the show texting friends, and as a reward, the duo composed a song on stage to mark the moment. It apparently worked: Palmer tweeted last night that she sold 40 more tickets.
It was a fun, good-natured two hours, marked by Radiohead covers, accordions, some of Palmer’s and Webley’s own hits, and Palmer reading aloud a poem written by her fiance, god-to-book-nerds-everywhere Neil Gaiman. Palmer’s father, Jack, who lives in Chevy Chase, closed the evening out when he came onstage to perform Leonard Cohen’s “Hallejulah” with his daughter. A love letter to music, performance, fun and to family.