Sunday, May 31, 2009

Ani DiFranco

Ani DiFranco
Originally uploaded by tonbabydc

Ok, so I'm not going to hate on Ani DiFranco.

I happen to think that she's amazingly smart and witty and honest and funny and talented and a damn good songwriter. I really enjoyed that "Little Plastic Castle" album, and "Living in Clip" has a downright amazing ratio of good songs to not-good-songs for a live album of its length. I struggle to come up with a double-live that can keep pace with this one, in fact.

*Hmm. Shame there are only 14 tracks on "No Sleep Til Hammersmith", and no I'm not linking to that one. You agree or you don't.*

Incidentally, I never bothered to listen to anything of Ani's after those two albums, but they're enough to demonstrate to me that she's an absolutely amazing talent Just pointing that out.

All of that said, I look at this stub, and I can't help to feel terribly self-conscious. Because other than going vegan, I cannot think of a more cliche way to scream out for attention as a wannabe hipster than to suddenly embrace a feminist songwriter. (Note that this is true of lesbian rock as well, but note also that this was the late 90's, and the line between political, feminist, punk and lesbian seemed to blur beyond any sort of semi-clear delineation. Damn Riot Grrls are always making me feel stupid about this kind of thing.).

((By the way, is Ani doing dudes again or what? I never did figure that out)).

Anyway, the fact that I admit to enjoying Ani DiFranco's music while expressing embarrassment over it says a heck of a lot more about my continuing sense of insecurity than it does about her music.....and that, unfortunately, can probably be said for just about every one of these damned blog entries. Except maybe that time I saw Bruce Springsteen do that fucking Ghost of Tom Joad tour. Maybe I shoulda just listened to "Born to Run" and "Nebraska" then never picked up another Springsteen album and I would remember him with the same fondness that I hold for Ms. DiFranco.

Ok, so as for the show, it was fine. Very intimate, lots of interaction with individual members of the audience. Her performance style was very cute and engaging, which I realize to a certain type of music fan completely undersells everything else that Ani brings to the table. I say to them, whatever, dude. If that chick in Sleater Kinney - not named Carrie Brownstein - was half as charming as Ani, maybe I would have gotten around to seeing them in concert, too.

(Carrie - call me. Please. We can get past it.)

Ani was seriously, a brilliantly personal performer. And I did love this show, even if it was at fucking WolfTrap, an utterly ridiculous outdoor venue in the Virginia suburbs that is completely adored by that dispicable group of 30-to-40-something, yuppie, eco-conscious, intellectual, NPR-listeneing boring-ass buttheads of which I am all but a card-carrying member these days.

The thing about WolfTrap (other than the name....WTF?) is that it gives off a sense of intimacy because it doesn't look very big....probably because the shed part of the venue is situated among lots of fields and hills and trees, making...well, everything in your immediate area look smaller by comparison. But in fact, if you sit in the field, you might just be further away from the stage than you would be at the dilapidated grass at Merriweather Post Pavilion.

I'm sure I'm not the first person to consider this, but I assume that it is simply a compromise too small for the WolfTrap crowd to honestly struggle with, as they lay down their quilts on fine tall Virginia fescue and sip overpriced chardonnay with smoked gouda as they passively listen to the music and trade stories with one another about how they used to go to DC Space and "the old 9:30 club".

((I'm sorry, did that sting? fuck you.))

I do wish that I remembered more details about the show, but I don't really. I do recall a lovely version of "As Is", which is probably still my favorite song of hers'. But the details get fuzzy over the years.

The highlight was undoubtedly her bringing the Rebirth Brass Band on tour as her opener. Simply put, Rebirth is the single greatest American band in existance at this moment. Don't believe me? Check them out for free on June 13 here in D.C. During their opening set they worked Stevie Wonder's "Part Time Lover" into the mix, and for the encore of Ani's performance, she brought them on stage to do a Louisiana-flavored "When Doves Cry". It was kind of mind blowing.

So, apologies to Ms. DiFranco that I don't remember more details of her show, but I do thank her - profoundly - for turning me on to the Rebirth Brass Band.

Shame that it took me more than ten years to see them again.........but it sure did make for a fun Halloween 2008 in New Orleans.

No comments: