Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Lilith Fair Part I - THE MUSIC

I submit to you, my readers, one irrefutable fact in life:

There is nothing more lesbian than going to Lilith Fair with your exgirlfriend.

And I did. Which makes me super gay. SUPER. DUPER. GAY. In case you don't know what I'm talking about, one of the first rules (and by rules, I mean stereotypes) of being a lesbian is remaining friends with your exes. Although stereotypes, while based in some form of truth, never sit well with Aries children. Stereotypes?? Who needs stereotypes?? We are original! We are unique! We are pioneers of our own destiny! WATCH US AND BE INSPIRED, YE LESSER MORTALS!!!!

Trust me - this is the Aries subtext. It runs in the background of our programming. All. The. Time.

Anyway, I had never been friends with my exes previously, and was always a little proud of this fact, though it may seem callous. One thing I'm really good at: not going with the crowd - on purpose. It's not a natural trait - I'm not automatically rebellious like James Dean. I am calculatedly contradictory. 12 years ago, when everyone was jumping on the Harry Potter bandwagon, I just refused - on principle. And I still do that - if there's something everyone is raving about, I will purposefully avoid it; my initial reaction is to reject it. But slowly, painfully, over time I'll investigate to really see if it's as great as everyone else says. And then 8 years after the fad, I'll indulge, and usually declare it the best thing ever. Like Harry Potter. (All star Ravenclaw, right here ... I named my dog HAGRID)

It's either that, or I have to be one of the FIRST to like it. This happens a lot with me and bands. I love being the first among my friends to recommend a band and watch them all eat it up like delicious musical candy. GOD! I am such an Aries.

[And while I'm at it...]

GOD! I am such a lesbian!

I went to Lilith Fair - the most lesbian concert of all time - YES - even MORE than Melissa Etheridge or the Indigo Girls (and I've seen both of them live too). How lesbian is Lilith Fair, you ask? It's THIS lesbian:

See?? You can't get more lesbian than that ...

Well, yes you can. Multiply this by a few thousand. An entire crowd of this. In fact, after Brandi Carlile (the neo lesbian song siren of my generation) sang a particularly awesome song, I let forth my version of a Xena battle cry (I'm on season 6!!), and a group of them turned around, laughing and smiling, and gave me some thumbs up.

Are you getting how truly lesbian this is?? I know I'm harping on and on about this ... I just want to make sure we're clear.

And all of this is not to say that I didn't have a great time - I did! And I have a great ex. She's one of my dearest friends, in fact (Hi Lala!). But since I haven't been to Pride in at least 4 years, I figure Lilith Fair counts toward my annual quota. (right?) This was also my first time going to Lilith Fair ... ever. I missed them the first time around ... I wasn't cool enough. The first concert I ever went to was when I was a senior in high school ... I didn't get out much; I was too busy trying to get into college. So really, I think I should get double points.

It was definitely an experience. Highlights include: seeing the Weepies, seeing Brandi Carlile, buying a (small) glass of wine for $8.50 (thanks again, Lala!), having the concert be interrupted by vendors in yellow shirts trying to sell an assortment of different things on the lawn where we were sitting, having dirt kicked on us by a small child, watching men wearing Lilipad shirts and giving out free samples of feminine hygiene products, and seeing two friends of mine who I used to work with at Disneyland! All of this for $10.00. It was probably the most fun night I've had in well over a month.

The best thing about music festivals, hands down, is the people watching. Lara saw some serious DD (dyke drama), in the form of one woman throwing her glass of beer at another woman, and drenching 5 additional women ... in beer. Awesome! We were also privileged in observing one very drunk woman offering and successfully selling a pole's worth of cotton candy on the lawn, as the hapless, laughing vendor toddled behind. There were hippies hoolahooping, lesbians cuddling (in mass amounts), and young punks in faux-hawks standing front and center every time we wanted to take a picture on Lara's super camera.

The sad thing about Lilith Fair this year, is that it's underwhelming. From the publicity to the lineup order to the  crowd attendance - it was just flat. The lineup spots, in particular, were horrendous. This is what it looked like:

2:30 someone we didn't know playing on a small stage
3:20 someone we didn't know playing on a small stage
4:30 The Weepies! playing on an even SMALLER stage
5:00 someone we didn't know singing opera-rock (??) on a small stage
5:50 Brandi Carlile on the Main Stage
6:40 Emmylou Harris on the Main Stage
7:30 Jenni Rivera on the Main Stage
8:40 Miranda Lambert on the Main Stage
10:00 Sarah McLaughlin on the Main Stage
11:00 end of show

"But Alyssa, what's wrong with this lineup?" Oh ... I'll TELL you what's wrong with the lineup.

I know the smaller stages are for unknown bands. I get it. And I realize not a lot of people know who the Weepies are. But trust me when I say, they deserve the main stage. They have the sound, energy, and personality for the Main Stage. The stage they were actually playing on was in such an out-of-the-way, tiny spot where there wasn't more than about 15 yards of actual lawn - and the area was so packed by the time they got done playing, it was standing room only, covering more than about 50 yards.

Now - while Emmylou Harris is a big name, and maybe deserves a main stage, she can't handle it. It was so abundantly clear that she's used to playing small, intimate venues; and she was on this huge, amphitheater stage - she was positively overwhelmed by it all. Lara and I agreed that she was only talking to about half of the orchestra - we couldn't hear her as she was talking about whatever she was talking about - and she had a microphone with mega-watts worth of audio power. Sad. So while it might seem like it's a dis to Emmylou to put her on one of the smaller stages, I think it would better serve her, her fans, and her music to be on one of the smaller stages. I think part of my disappointment lies in the fact that I was SOOOOO excited to see her. Any time I get the chance to see a music legend, of any genre, I'm there. To be able to say, "I saw Emmylou Harris play!" Ideally I'd like to follow that up with, "She was rockin'!" But I can't. I can only say, "Meh."

Next - Brandi Carlile. In case you don't know, Brandi Carlile is phenomenal. She has a great voice, she writes her own stuff, and she has an AWESOME on-stage personality. And they put her in the first main stage slot - which, considering Emmylou's underwhelming follow up, was awful.

Do you know who Miranda Lambert is?? Neither did I. I have since learned that she's an upcoming country star. But you know what, Lilith Fair? You're playing Orange County. We are NOT a country market. She had a decent show, and it was high-energy, but no one knows who the hell she is! There weren't tons of people there to begin with, and then add in the unknown factor of this singer ... and it made for a terrible setup for Queen Sarah.

Solution: Move Emmylou to the Weepies slot. Put the Weepies in Brandi Carlile's slot, move Brandi to Miranda Lambert's spot, and move Miranda Lambert to Emmylou's spot. Bam. Why don't people pay me hundreds of thousands of dollars to make these decisions?!?!

Now - Jenni Rivera is the one thing Lilith got right - timing, market, show - everything. Jenni Rivera is a classic Mariachi singer ... who had an accompanying 10 piece Mariachi band behind her. It was cultural without being obnoxious, it was environmentally appropriate without being showy, it was LA without being LA. She sang classic Mexican/Mariachi songs like "Cielito Lindo" (Ay, yi, yi yi), and then paired them with classic Motown doo-wop, like "Angel Baby." It was fucking rad. She cracked jokes about the Arizona immigration law, talked about her "Laker-pride" dress, and was just oozing charm, humor, and excitement in being asked to play Lilith Fair. It was SO. Rad. Oh ... and her dress looked a little something like this:

Awesome, right?? and part of her Mariachi Band:

Here is a shot of Emmylou. What you don't see are her weird silver space boots [sad fact: the only Emmylou Harris song I know is "Even Cowgirls Get the Blues" which she thankfully played]:

The Weepies [they were sooooo adorable and charming! Tracy, Lara said that Deb Talan reminds her of you...]

Queen Sarah, playing the Guitar [I don't know if you know this, but she also plays the piano]:

And last, but NEVER least, my new crush, Brandi Carlile [it's okay ... my girlfriend knows]:


It should be noted that none of the above are photos taken by me or Lara, sadly. We were about 5 miles up and away on the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater lawn. But, these photos are courtesy of Meg Strouse and the OC Weekly. So please don't sue me - I think you're pretty swell. 

If you every get the chance to see Brandi Carlile live, GO. GO, GO, GO. It's beyond worth it. She did two Johnny Cash covers ("Jackson" and "Folsom Prison"), and Miranda Lambert called Brandi out during her set to do a duet to Patsy Cline's "Crazy." It was awesome. She's great on stage, her band is awesome, she has an accompanying cello player (what's not to love about rock n' roll cello???), AND she has one hell of an incredible voice. Oh ... and she's ridiculously hot. Notice that tattoo on her shoulder? Well, it's on both of her shoulders ... and it's of this: 

Look familiar? It's the auryn - Atreyu's symbol from "The Neverending Story." HOT.

Brandi Carlile playing live in Boston ... oh ... and two out of her 4 band mates are twins, which is really cool, in a weird way. And I want to steal her wardrobe.

Also - I urge you to get into the Weepies if you haven't already. Here's a little ditty I wooed my girlfriend with:

The claymation is an added bonus. Note: They have a new album coming out in August, which from the songs they played, sounds like a huge bottle of summertime awesomeness. 

Other musical highlights of the night: 

-Queen Sarah sang "Ice Cream" live ... which, while I guess she sings it for an encore a lot, was awesome for me hear, since I had never seen her perform before (I'm not the world's biggest Sarah McLaughlin fan, though I find her general Canadian politeness to be adorable). 

- Emmylou Harris sang backup on Sarah's "Angel." 

- After "Ice Cream" was over, she brought ALL of the ladies out and they sang a great version of "Because the Night," as made popular by Patti Smith (written by one B. Springsteen...)

Sorry, I mean all of the ladies except Deb Talan ... she was, undoubtedly, putting her son, Theo, to bed on the bus. Which was a bummer, but I'll take it anyway, because her bass player (the one on the platform with the bad ass bass) was there being bad ass. (BAD ASS!)

Stay tuned for the next installment of Lilith Fair: The Lesbians!

[Don't get too excited, there's only one other installment, and it's to do with my casual, and in no way scientific anthropological findings on the various sub-groups of the Lesbian species]


Phoenix said...

Tell Lara that I'm so totally honored to remind anyone of Deb Talan. And I'm pretty sure "World Spins Madly On" is one of the most perfect songs in the world. Even playing in that horrid Mandy Moore movie.

Brandi Carlile is HOT. Covering Johnny Cash? Even hotter.

And I love Sarah's live performance of "Ice Cream" because it's such a great one for the audience to participate in. Even though I'm also not her hugest fan (Tori Amos made fun of her once at a concert! I died laughing!)

Besides the somewhat low-key lineup, and some unfortunate beer-drenching, sounds like a good time!