LILITH FAIR: WHY COME BACK NOW?

If hardcore Sarah McLachlan fans haven’t informed you yet, Lilith Fair is coming back to Utah.  After 12 years of not being in the state and 11 years of not being anywhere at all, the female-centric tour has a diverse collection of artists set to perform at the Usana Amphitheater on July 12.  This year’s lineup includes Lilith fair veterans Sarah McLachlan and Emmylou Harris, as well popular newcomers. For instance, Rhianna and Ke$ha are making a stop exclusively in Salt Lake City.

The concert is attempting to bridge a gap between a generation that actually experienced the shows and another generation whose knowledge of the tour is likely limited to commentary from VH1’s I Love the ‘90s before this year’s tour was announced.

The music industry has definitely changed since the first tour in 1997, and one has to wonder if the echo of Lilith Fair’s original intent can still be heard after a decade or so.

Originally, the tour was put together by McLachlan and her management after she became frustrated with radio stations and concert promoters that wouldn’t play two female acts in a row. It started out basically as something organized out of defiance and worked against the status quo or “the man” – hence the allusion to Jewish folklore about Adam’s more independent first wife, whose name inspired the tour’s title.

The music on the tour is good; quality really isn’t a question. Many of the musicians that are featured on this tour are, however, able to successfully do solo touring, including McLachlan herself. The only person on the tour that will be at all of the tour stops will be McLachlan, who is also scheduled to release a new album this summer. The impetus for the tour seems to be more related to promotion for her new album than any frustrations with radio stations not playing female artists back-to-back. Rhianna and Ke$ha were probably played right in a row on at least one radio station in the past 24 hours.

Although the tour is still a celebration of female musicians, the whole “Lilith” aspect of it seems to be not as important as the just being a woman part. This started to happen with the last tour when they invited the “Genie in a Bottle” era Christina Aguilara in 1999, and now Selena Gomez is playing on some stops this year, although apparently not in Utah. These artists likely aren’t the only ones featured that debatably go against anti-patriarchial values, but they exemplify a certain commercialized aspect that detracts from the original depth that the tour held in its first year. Now several performers are more obviously molded by their record labels in terms of their images and the music produced.

Even if Lilith Fair has become more about selling tickets, the tour still offers a strong platform for lesser-known female acts that probably do struggle with radio play and touring. Along with up-and-coming artists like Rosie Thomas who are playing at the concert this year, the opportunity to gain exposure with was expanded with an Ourstage artist contest.

For artists like Rhianna, if she came to Utah as a part of Lilith Fair or some other tour seems to be of little importance, but because of Lilith’s reputation and ability to draw big-ticket performers, it provides a larger opportunity for Rhianna’s ticket sales.

A complete lineup for Salt Lake City’s Lilith Fair is available at www.LilithFair.com, where ticket purchases are also available.

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