Kate and Kathy and I went to see Liz Phair last night. I had a chance to see her perform way back in 1994, just as "Never Said" was starting to get a lot of airplay. There was something like a $3 cover for her performance at a tiny live-music venue here called the Blind Pig. But for some reason, I didn't go, I don't remember why, but I do remember saying to myself that I'd catch her the next time she was in town.
Except Exile in Guyville, as everyone knows, suddenly became this Indie Rock hit, she was suddenly in big demand, and she never came back to the Blind Pig (which no longer even exists), and last night's show at the Auditorium was the best I could do.
The Auditorium isn't a huge place, but it's certainly not very intimate, and while we had 8th row seats, there was still nothing like a small-club feel to it. But oh well.
I was struck by her stage presence, especially since she's really a tiny little thing. Her 5'2 height is given in the song "6'1"" but you don't realize how small she is until you see her. I was glad that she still seems to have that really casual, bantering, flirting relationship with her audience. She used to get really bad stage fright, I guess, and you can still see bits of that in how she interacts with the audience.
I was especially pleased that she stuck mostly to older stuff from Guyville and Whipsmart. Naturally she had to play a few things off Liz Phair ("Rock Me" and "H.W.C" of course, but also, strangely enough, "Friend of Mine") and I was surprised that the crowd was noticeably quieter during them... I didn't know if that was mass editorial comment, or what. One can argue her "sell-out" status with this new album, and may or may not be right, but she seemed just as comfortable performing the new stuff that makes her sound more like Avril Lavigne as her older, rawer stuff. Or maybe she's just a good enough performer that can just keep the same air regardless of what she's playing.
At least her voice has gotten much, much better over the years. Some of the tapes of shows I've heard from the mid-90's are a bit painful here and there.
But the bottom line was all three of us had a great time, I swear Liz made eye contact with me once or twice, some woman was hitting on Kathy which amused me greatly, we had chocolate afterward, and Kate even stole a poster for me.