Monday, August 30, 2004

How I Yearn to Grow Up to Someday be a Chick with an Attitude

I was driving to work early Wednesday morning thinking that it was way too soon to return to the office feeling like I had just been there not that long ago. Here I had left late the night before, burning memory cards and the midnight oil with the repressed actress and original chick with an attitude. Now here I was returning, making what just about felt like a soul sucking loopy U-turn. Not that I'd ever complain.

Quite deliberately my choice for music for the don't want to do it this one more time drive was a Liz Phair compilation I burned for the blue-eyed editor last summer. In the moment the particular song that thankfully perked up my ears was "Red Light Fever" from her not so new now but feels like it was new way back then, CD, Liz Phair. Maybe it was my sleep deprived state of mind but the song hit me like never ever before- a catchy little ditty that asks the musical (and most accurate and pertinent question imaginable) "How are you going to make it through the year?"

A mere 14 hours later I found myself with the wise blue-eyed editor standing at our seats, 20 feet away from Liz listening to her sing that very same song at the Orpheum. I swear Liz looked right in my eyes when she sang, "Lying awake in the dark/Trying to figure out where you are/Always going nowhere/Afraid of going somewhere/And somewhere's a place in your heart..."

Liz was the closing act of a show billed as "Chicks with an Attitude." The first two "chicks" were Charlotte Martin who added a new dimension to the word pretentious, and Katy Rose who the blue-eyed editor turned to me after the set was over and said exactly what I was thinking. "That was what I imagine sitting through an Avril Lavigne show would feel like." Granted, both Martin and Rose lived up to the show's billing. The third act, the Cardigans, proved to be a major step up, delivering a tight set full of catchy little tunes (tho' the only one with an apparent attitude was the bass player who was in a cool place all by himself).

Liz Phair, original as she still is, put the capital C&A in the term "Chick with an Attitude." She entered to the pounding buzz saw power chords of "Flower" where she persuaded us all she still wants is a "fresh young jimmy ramming slamming jamming in me" and closed her performance assuring us that a certain white bodily fluid is indeed the fountain of youth. In between, she gave a better performance than either the other two she's given in this town the past year. The band was tighter (better bass player) and her confidence was evident in the grin she wore all night along with a nice snug outfit.

The crowd was shockingly young- the blue-eyed editor was born in 1980 (the year I got my driver's license) and even she was probably on the upper edge age-wise of all the overall ticket buyers. (I swear the kid in front of us was no more than eight or nine- and he scored a Katy Rose autograph program). And yes maybe it's because with age comes a necessary nudge toward nostalgia but what was apparent to me throughout the evening was that Liz's older songs (like "Never Said" and "Divorce Song") are still heads and shoulders (and all other body parts) above her newer material. Hard as they rocked (or as hard as Liz tried to make us) songs like "Bionic Eyes" and "Love/Hate" just don't resonate with the impact as "Fuck and Run" or "Polyester Bride."

That said the highlight of the evening was the juxtaposition of my new favorite Liz song, "Extraordinary" (serving as a personal little theme for a variety of reasons- "I am extraordinary/If you really get to know me/I'm just your ordinary, average, everyday sane psycho..." -go ahead and sing that at the top of your lungs on your drive to work and tell me it isn't cathartic, or attend a Twins' game and hear it blaring over the way too loud Friday night speakers and tell me you'd ever thought you'd live to see the day where Liz was played in the sterile Metrodome) with one of her best songs ever , "Mesmerizing." The mocking tone of the former raises a smile but the sentiment of the latter still oozed out from every tiny inch of her frame throughout.

During an early song, the scratch yourself "Rock Me," Liz jumped down from the stage and danced with some of the patrons. Though I wasn't fortunate enough to personally participate I must say she did eventually get me out of my seat (like she stated was her overall goal for all during the evening). She is one of the few women remaining that has the ability to do that.

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