Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Everybody's Pretty Pissed About Lilith.

I've been reading some extremely hairy reviews on Lilith Fair.  And when I say hairy, I mean not so good.  As a longtime fan of Sarah's - I mean, does anyone not like Sarah? - I'm bummed for her.  I think what she and the Fair did for women in music in the late 90s was pretty g-damn awesome.

But alas, here we are over 10 years later.  And the Fair, from what I'm reading, is a bit of a tour-tanic.  So, let's pretend for a moment that we're the promoters of this event and it's our shirts that are being lost.  Economy aside, what do you think is going wrong?

Here are a few of my thoughts in no particular order:

-Not enough Indigo Girls.  Let's be honest.  You need Indigos more than Sarah to make it feel like a festival, and they're only on 3 dates this year.  #FAIL.  Amy Ray brings the camaraderie.  I've been on enough female bills (including Lilith) to know that girls don't play nice together backstage.  Caddy.  Trust me.   Amy makes sure everyone plays nice and comes out singing "Midnight Train to Georgia" together at the end.  No Amy = No good.

-Not enough really hot-right-this-second names on the bill like PINK.  Or like Rihanna.  Or like Miley (eek, that's promoter Kristen talking, not regular Kristen).  Or, d'uh - GAGA!  Or GAGA and Beyonce - TOGETHER!  Who else?  There must be about 100 others I'm not thinking of.

-They need to get a really hot reunion of some sort on the bill.  Like...thinking, thinking....Destiny's Child could have been interesting.  I mean.  Not that interesting to me, personally.  But maybe to people who buy tickets.  Or....Fleetwood Mac on Lilith could've been cool.  Not that Lilith is lacking in the "people-over-40-who-wear-pleated-khaki-shorts" demographic.  OH.  I've got it!  THE RUNAWAYS.  That would have been an AMAZING reunion and OH SO TIMELY.

-Change the name, but make sure it's marketed as something born out of Lilith Fair.  Like, hmm.    Lil-ish Fair.  Alright, we need to work on alternate names.  But Lilith feels, well, a little too BeBe Newirth to me.  And when I say that, I mean tired.  It feels....just.....so....tired.... yawn.

-What if you put some BOYS on the dates.  Whoa, I know.  Call me crazy as a loon, but, what pisses us female artists off the most is how exclusive the boys clubs are.  They've got room for only one female artist on a festival, or one female artist in the rotation at a radio station.  What if the new "Lil-ish" INCLUDED instead of EXCLUDED and put one or two guy-like artists on the bill, just for shitz and ticket sales.  Sarah can come out to sing a few songs with them to make it feel Lilithy.  Oh, I do hear the naysayers already.   The whole point of the festival is to give the girls their one place on planet Earth to go be in a festival without feeling excluded.  BUT AT LILITH REDUX WE NEED TO CHANGE SOME OF THE OLD RULES.  Work with me, people.  We're trying to sell tickets to a festival.  The only thing we have to fear is fear itself, not boys on festival bills.

Seriously, though.  I want you to imagine what dudes would be willing to play the festival...hmmm.  Oh, I just thought of a GREAT ONE!  Adam Lambert!  He'd KILL IT at Lilith.  And you know he'd be so down to do it.  And then he and GAGA can sing a duet!  Whooooop.  I'm loving this new Lil-ish Fair!     

-Ok.  Here's my last change.  And I know I could get tarred and feathered for even uttering this.
Drum roll please..........Don't make Sarah headliner. (LOUD GASP!) 

I know, I know.  Blaspheme.  But if you rename it, and have Sarah perform on the main stage earlier for some of the dates, or even have her play the more intimate 2nd stage solo with just her piano on other dates, wouldn't that be a nice change of pace?  It sure seems like a lot to make Sarah carry the mother lode on her shoulders when she's 10+ years past her...well...biggest years...I say delicately and with boat loads of respect.  

Alright.  I'm done thinking about this.  And I'm wondering what you all think?  Did you go?  Did you like it?  Did it piss you off when people who paid $50 were now sitting next to you in your $250 seats?

Bark back.

Back Stage Lilith Fair 1998:
That's Garrison Starr and me kneeling down in the front meeting for the first time.  Garrison now co-writes with Antigone Rising on a regular basis.  You just never know who you're kneeling next to anymore, right?  Please note, Amy Ray (upper left) invited AR to join everyone on stage for "Midnight Train To Georgia" moments after this photo was snapped.  


  1. I hear you on the whole Lilith lineup. I guess when you're speaking from a promoter's point of view, then yeah, it makes sense to bill some of the female acts that you mentioned. But what about billing more organic, (ahem) actually talented acts, say, maybe Taylor Swift or Colbie Caillet? Less machine-produced, you know, you get my drift. More acoustic-y, more homegrown, more singer-songwriters like the origins of Lilith were initially. Nothing against Beyonce or Gaga who are definitely powerhouses in their own right...but of a different sort, mind you. I'm jus' sayin'.

    Lilith was never JUST about indie singer-songwriter, lone chick playing in a coffeehouse, either. They rocked out from day 1 and brought diversity to boot. I went to each Lilith in Hartford, each of the three or four years that it happened, and I am pretty sure I SAW that grand finale with AR and Garrison etc... But I digress. Each year there were not only international artists, but female performers of all genres, folk, rock, pop, African, electronic, etc. That's what I'm looking forward to with this year's lineup...and there are a few names on the CT and NYC bills I think, at least, that are happily familiar to me, but whom I haven't really gotten too many opportunities besides Lilith to see perform live...Cree Summer for one, Sara Bareilles, Toby Lightman (who's shared a bill with AR btw), Missy Higgins, etc. etc. Anyway, I'm stoked about the CT/NYC lineups. And in that regard, ie international/cross-genre appeal, I think that this year's Lilith (version 10.0) promises to deliver what I had become accustomed to by the time that fourth Lilith rolled around way back when in the late '90s.

    You're right about the Sarah headlining bit. I would love to see her play a second stage, solo piano, etc., or the mainstage but earlier. Shake it up a bit. Out with the old standard...in w/a new version of Lil'.

    Way back when, Lilith did have a few guys on the bill...not guy-fronted bands, per se, but bands w/a guy here and there, ie the Cranberries, or Chrissie Hynde's band, or the Cardigans. So it wasn't entirely male-exclusive. And even though I remember very, very clearly taking over the mens' room when there were 80,000 women in line trying to go all at the same time in between acts, there WERE a few guys here and there who were still trying to stake out their territory. Lilith was always purported as being guy friendly...at least from what I saw in CT.
    Interesting tidbit = I was just looking through an old Lilith "official program" I bought in '98 and it's a keepsake postcard book, advertising different bands/products/etc like Rasputina, Biore, and Starbucks (I know, what a combo, right?!). Anyhow, I noticed one postcard that flew off of the page and totally struck me between the eyes. Rufus Wainwright. Unapologetically. Advertising his latest cd. Gotta love it. He's one of my all-time favorites and here he is, being advertised in an otherwise female-top-heavy or practically female-exclusive advertising campaign.

    Anyhoo, I'm really looking forward to this year's show...if for no other reason (and there's always the love of the concertgoing part of it, of course), than to see how it lives up to or compares with my previous Lilith experiences.

    10 years later. Whoa.
    Did we really age!? For real!? Has that much time gone by?

    Something tells me that, no matter what, no matter what changes have taken place in the past 10 years, we'll probably all still end up singing a big rousing finale of "Big Yellow Taxi" when the sun finally sets on Lilith 2010. ; )

  2. LOVE this. Lil-ish Fair should be girls, and gay guys only.

    Like... Adam Lambert and Clay Aiken (but not together coz they hate each other) Lance Bass could sing back up for someone.... and and and AND the gay guy from Glee needs to be all over it. but only if he does super gay Broadway songs with Kristin Chenoweth.

  3. @ollywood, have we found our newest business venture? Conference call at 2pm!

  4. Definitely need changes....

  5. Everything needs change. But no drama...right?!

  6. I agree with everything you said in your blog, everything from Amy Ray!!! (Love her!) to Adam Lambert! (Funky Fresh) to reunions to newer artists on the bill! They need to promote to the artists (new and old) for support to keep it alive!

  7. I was so excited for Lilth then Nashville got axed along with the rest of the sothern dates. The biggest complaint I've heard here is the fact it was at an inside venue. Part of Lilith is being outside. We need a definite set of artist on the bill. I was so thrilled with the addition of Jill Hennessy to the lineup, then found out she was only playing NYC & Phillie. I don't 'bout adding the boys, but I would be ok with Adam Lambert. I hope there are changes made & they give it another try.

  8. ollywood: "and and and AND the gay guy from Glee needs to be all over it. but only if he does super gay Broadway songs with Kristin Chenoweth."

    Oh, I would so go to this. I'd go, and I'd go to all shows in a 3 state radius. Someone needs to make this happen for me.

  9. I do have to agree with you! My partner, Melissa Collins, was in the competition they had on OurStage and placed 3rd. She was not chosen but there was A LOT of complaining by folks who voted, bought tickets, were artists competing etc. Many many people not happy with Lilith Fair. I really think everyone, fans all the way to executives planning the events lost sight of what Lilith Fair is all about.
    Too bad......


  10. Hey they should book Girls Against Boys (who I love!) and on the opposite end of the spectrum, William Hung! AND make it an all-out American Idolfest ; ) jk jk

  11. I was excited about the nashville show also but oh well :( i was excited when lilith was announced and was hoping for Brandi Carlile and A fine Frenzy in Nashville but then when Nashville was announced I was a little disappointed with the lineup there....i personally don't mind it being inside since it's hot in nashville and i'm a wuss.....4 days of outside CMA fest was plenty of heat for me...

  12. I was so not with you on the guy thing, until you said Adam Lambert, then I went, "Oh! That makes sense!" And not really because he's gay, just because he seems to fit.

    There was so much wrong with this version of Lilith, the least of which is the name. THE names however ... I never heard of half of them, and the known names were sporadic on the dates at best.

    I'm all over the "need more Indigo Girls", but what date isn't made a little bit better with some IG?

    The publicity was slow too ... maybe I just wasn't paying attention, but I've seen very little about it. What I did hear, seemed to be as an aside, "Sarah has this CD coming out, and by the way she's touring with Lilith too."
    Which brings up the other nasty subject ... that everyone that I know that's been, has come away angry that it lacks the camaraderie that was the original Lilith, and reeks of commercialism. Everyone needs to make money, but this seemed like the cart was before the horse. It wasn't, "Hey, let's have a festival, and do this to pay for it," but more, "Hey, let's make money, and this is how we'll do it."

    I'm spending money on concerts this summer, but I'm not feeling like I'm missing anything at Lilith.
    I'd rather spend my day laughing with the ladies of Antigone Rising, then be harassed by promoters and sponsors at a festival anyway.

  13. Oh about the cheaper tickets being sold at the venue the day of: yeah, that's kind of rotten, considering some people have paid astronomically more for so-called "better" seats, but 1) they're the ones who decided to pay more for those seats in the first place, and 2) maybe - just maybe? - this could be seen as - um - a kind of re-democratization of the event, in the same vein as U2 selling tickets for $20 or whatever for their Vertigo tour years ago, after the scalpers had gone in and swiped all of the so-called "best" seats in the house? But then again. Not sure what the intention/impetus was for this, and if it was just to fill in those seats, then yeah...you luck out if you're a latecomer!

  14. Rob Thomas with or without Matchbox Twenty. Perfect boy main stage act at Lilith.

  15. Going to the show in NJ end of July... loved the blog... everything you say is true, but still love Sarah

  16. @Hendo, you made some great points. Perhaps Sarah should have created a new festival. Because this thing, is not Lilith. And nothing will be, most likely. Start anew. Perhaps at smaller venues. And cheaper prices.

    I have no intention of going. The CT and NJ (aka the NYC date) shows, there are people I wouldn't mind seeing or would enjoy seeing, but no one that I would go see on there own.

    I'm more than content with my small venues and my indie artists. That's where the majority of my support goes.


  17. here's my deal with lilithfair... when i heard it was coming back i was superpsyched, a whole bunch of my friends and i were all about getting tix for the ny show... i was really hoping they would do Jones Beach (for convenience mostly), but also because it's just a fun venue and where i went to my one and only lilithfair oh so many years ago... then we find out the NY show is actually in NJ... when the hell did NJ become an acceptable synonym for NYC? nothing against NJ, but don't say NYC if the show is in NJ... then we look at the lineup for the NYC show (aka NJ)... a couple of 'yeah, that would be cool, kinda i guess' and Tegan and Sarah (i think) was the high point... i mean i love Sarah and the Indigo Girls... but i've seen them a bunch of times so it wouldn't necessarily get me out to NJ (unlike this one band that i've seen hundreds of times in all sorts of locations) but i digress... turns out Tegan and Sarah are playing Jones Beach, opening for Paramour in August... sooooo... we got tix for that instead.
    I don't think Lilithfair should have male acts... but Lilish-fair... totally... and Adam Lambert would be awesome anywhere... i have yet to see Gaga, and if you put her on the tour, please make sure the venues are like the National Mall in size so i might actually be able to get a ticket... holy impossible to get tickets to her shows! grrrr
    anyway, i like the lilish idea... i went to tons of Lollapalooza's, loved those... so why not a lilapalooza?

  18. All great points here indeed.

    My 2 cents is that the original Lilith was just that, original...aside from the intent behind it, but also because it capitalized on the whole "chick rock" thing that was the 90's. The 90's had Sarah, Sheryl, Alanis, Tori, Fiona, and several more being played on the same radio stations. The female artists being played today are not cut from the same cloth.

    So, I agree with Amanda, the newer Lilith should have been on a smaller scale, to continue the theme of promoting women artists, of various levels on the totum pole, to get their music out to the masses who would be into it. Instead, I think it turned into just an attempt at nostalgia.

  19. OMG...Minneapolis show..The venue just changed from a outdoor theater to the Target Center four days before the concert......there goes the festival walk-around relax on the lawn theme unless you are in the first ......20 rows on the floor or first level balcony.....target center is a horrible place to see a concert ...totally blows cow caca...whoever changed the venue is one big NIN-COW-POOOOP

  20. Just gonna put a lil' request in to Sarah McLachlan: Get Fiona Apple to tour again!! : )

  21. dixie chicks.........courtyard hounds...........lucinda williams..........
    that's my 10 cents.

  22. I like your ideas...I for one am not a big Sarah fan - please dont kill me for that! BUT I love Garrison Star! yay she's working with you!

    How about some Country acts?? Pickler / Underwood / Gretchen Wilson? now SHE rocks...

    like the Adam Lambert angle too....mucho mucho.

  23. I have no answer for this problem, but I really miss the old festival shows of the 90's... Lil, Lol, HORDE (yeah, I'm a jamband fan)... I agree that it's pointless to try to bring the old ones back... ...but it'd be sweet if someone went to the trouble of creating new ones, with new names and new vibes. (Come to think of it, the jambanders are still putting on these festival shows, except they're single shot deals, where they don't come to the audience; the audience travels to them (or looks for one within a reasonable distance from their location.)

    Maybe they're just trying too hard to be a national tour... Perhaps the answer is what the jambanders do; lot's of single shot or weekend length festival shows, with varying names, promoters, and national/regional/local performers.

    I mean, the more I think about it, I'd rather have annual "one shot" events like Bonaroo, SXSW, VIBES, (&/or locally: Great South Bay, and The Riverhead Blues Festival) than a poorly planned/executed national tour like this year's Lilith...

  24. This is a subliminal message. The Rising Rock Festival Summer 2011. Repeat. The Rising Rock Festival Summer 2011. If we say it, it will come. The Rising Rock Festival Summer 2011. Who's with me? The Rising Rock Festival Summer 2011.

  25. I'm with ya, Hendo. Let's find a locale.

  26. I guess one of the lucky ones because I have the Indigos on the bill in DC.

    I like the reunion idea and they tried to do that this year with the Go-Go's but then Jane Weidlin got hurt and they had to drop out.

    How about a stage for each decade, more of a reminder that girl rock has been a longstanding thing. The 70's stage can have Fleetwood Mac and the Pretenders and Blondie. 80's can have The Bangles, The Go-Go's, Berlin or Missing Persons. 90's can have the Sheryl Crow and Indigos and Sarah types. Then for the recent you can throw in a Pink or a Taylor Swift or a GaGa. Tell me that wouldn't be a party!

    As for pricing, tickets cost too much for anything. Not to be anti-ticket sales places but come on. Fees cost almost as much as a whole second ticket. Absurd. We opted for lawn for our show but I promise to not rub it in if we get moved up.

    Bring on the Rising Rock Fest. I'll bring the beer and the frisbee.

  27. @bademu, discussions have already begun for The Rising Rock Fest 2011! Shit's goin' DOWN. You'll hear as soon as we got somethin' real to say about it. But we're PSYCHED!

  28. Can I design tees and posters?

    If you want to bring the party to Virginia, I know folks who have a vineyard and lots of room. Think Woodstock but with you instead of Jimi and merlot instead of LSD.

    Did you get your sketches?


  29. Just bought a $10 ticket. Kind of a travesty.
    Feel like I just dropped a penny in the "anything will help" jar. But I'm sure I'll spend a bit more on merch, etc when I'm there.

    We shall see. Will report back. And I LOVE the idea AND Nini's design/advert for Rising Rock 2011! : ) Bring it!!

  30. Ok, Lilith 2010 Hartford was pretty incredible. Sarah unassumingly snuck in there early on in the schedule and DID end up playing one of the side stages along with Melissa McClelland's band (with Butterfly Boucher in tow)...she played keyboards and sang backup vocals. There was a pretty decent crowd right in front of that side stage, but only a small handful of people about 20 feet away from Sarah McLachlan - great surprise to see her playing the Village Stage and such a fun show.

    Cat Power's performance was...eh...LOVE her music and she SOUNDED fine, but she ended up apologizing for the "bad performance" at the end of her 40-minute set. Also suuuuper mellow, which is fine, but at that point in the lineup (later in the evening, the 3rd performer on the main stage, right before the Indigos), I thought it was waaaaaay too mellow and slow-moving. Wish I'd gotten to see her on one of her better nights. There's always next time.

    Beth Orton, Missy Higgins, Toby Lightman, and Sara Bareilles, though...nice. We really lucked out with a pretty amazing lineup. Fun times. I really hope that they do Lilith 2011.

    And, oddly enough, the new "Lilith" graphic kinda LOOKS like it says "LiliSh" from a little bit of distance from the main stage. I am SO not kidding. ; )

    Oh and the night ended with "Because the Night," which brought me back to the Natalie Merchant Lilith show I saw in Hartford about 12 yrs ago. Thank GOD it wasn't "Big Yellow Taxi." ; )