Still Raising Her Own Hell.

2 07 2012

Fiona Apple at Boston’s Wang Theater

When Fiona Apple’s debut record, Tidal, was released in 1996, I was a mere sixteen years old, wallowing in a mixture of self-pity, misery, and confusion… much like most teenagers of the 90s. We were all Angela Chase looking for someone to give a voice to our ebbing and flowing emotions.  Tidal quickly became the soundtrack for my angsty teen years.

Flash-forward roughly sixteen years. Calling the world “bullshit” during a 1997 MTV award acceptance speech, her letter to Bill Magee,  and the “Free Fiona” campaign surrounding Extraordinary Machine seem like a lifetime ago. A superstitious person (albeit one with impeccable taste in music) would find some sort of connection between my age at the time Tidal was released and the amount of time to pass until I would have the opportunity to see her live.

Still seething with raw emotion, Fiona took to the stage at Boston’s Wang Theater this past Saturday, June 30th. The set opener was “Fast As You Can” which she sang through gritted teeth. From our seats (6th row, center), there was no mistaking the distinct pouting lips, cheekbones that could cut glass, and the cords in her neck straining as she delved into what would be an amazing performance. “Sleep to Dream” would see the waif-like siren pulling on her hair (which would alternate between being tied back in a ponytail and hanging loose past her shoulders) and writhing around like a beautifully broken marionette.

Artists like Fiona Apple and the show she put on this past weekend could be seen as signs that perhaps the music industry hasn’t been completely lost to an assembly line of commercialism and frivolity. Her ability to fuel her craft with complete passion and brutal honesty may be a dying art form but I would, without a doubt, wait another sixteen years to experience it again if I had to.



Fathers’ Music Syndrome.

12 04 2012

To quote Portlandia: “Do you remember the 90s?”

The programming on MTV was relevant. Britpop reached its height. Kids roamed around in wide-leg jeans and Airwalk sneakers listening to their Walkmans (or Discmans if you were fortunate enough to have a decent allowance). Music was a genuine artform instead of a mass-produced marketing gimmick that humps on autotune the way a dog humps a leg.

Blood for Poppies

Garbage "Blood for Poppies"

If you are like me, refreshing every music blog/website/tumblr from Spin to Pitchfork and Consequence of Sound to Brooklyn Vegan, then you are well aware that the decade that paved the way for the modern indie-rock scene to come to fruition is making quite the resurgence.

Garbage will be touring for the first time since 2007 and has been selling out shows in mere minutes of the tickets being made available. Mazzy Star (dream pop pioneers who were Beach House before Beach House was Beach House) reunited to release their first material since 1996 with promises of a full-length record and tour to follow. Melancholic waif, Fiona Apple, releases her fourth record (The Idler Wheel is wiser than the Driver of the Screw, and Whipping Cords will serve you more than Ropes will ever do a.k.a. The Idler Wheel…) in June just prior to a summer tour that takes her across the United States and Canada. Irish alternative band, The Cranberries, also released a new record after a 10-year hiatus.

These were some of the big names in music in the 90s that helped define who I was during my high school years. In fact, Garbage was the first live show that I saw (they opened for The Smashing Pumpkins at the Buffalo Memorial Auditorium in July of 1996).

My first reaction to the news that some of my favorite bands were returning to the spotlight and releasing new material was to wonder if I was suffering from what I call “Fathers’ Music Syndrome.” If you grew up in a household where your father was a music junkie, you might have a pretty good idea of what it is that I am referring to.

I will be the first to admit that when I was a teenager and engrossed in the music that was popular at the time (namely Seattle-based grunge rock), I couldn’t help but throw a side-eye of judgment at my father when he would pull out records by The Beach Boys or The Rolling Stones (it would be a few more years before my love for music developed enough and allowed me to appreciate these rock-n-roll legends). This was the music he grew up with. The music he loved. I remember being taken to see The Beach Boys at Pilot Field (currently Coca-Cola Field). I remember thinking to myself that only washed-up bands must play at minor league baseball games.

Have Fiona Apple, Garbage, et al become my (our) own “Fathers’ Music Syndrome?” Save for the fact that they can still sell out shows, still record amazing music,  and have cult followings decades later, there’s still that part of me (us) that finds comfort in the familiar sounds of a youthful era. I’ll be the first to admit that I would be the first in line to see Courtney Love play a free show at a baseball diamond.

Ironically, Hole just started playing on my iPod.