I saw one of the trippiest combinations of musics from different times of my life on Friday night.
I saw Amy Ray of the Indigo Girls, a band I discovered back in 1988, singing with Jody Bleyle of Hazel and Team Dresch, local bands I loved in the mid-90s, playing Amy’s solo stuff that just came out in the last three years. One minute I felt like I was in high school, the next minute I was singing along to a song I remember hearing for the first time just 2 years ago, and then Jody’s distinct harmonies, familiar movements, and amusing ramblings would send me back to my Seattle punk heyday of 10 years ago. It was downright trippy!
For the record, I really like Amy’s solo stuff. I’m sure some Indigo Girls fans don’t care for it because it’s definitely edgier and some of the lyrics are over the top, but I think it’s great and I love her energy. I think the Indigo Girls are more musically mature and Emily is certainly very accomplished, but I am a rocker and three chords played loudly will always trump whatever intricate melody Emily can drum up.
The crowd was definitely one of the weirdest I’ve ever been in. I thought I was going to feel relatively old, as I usually do at concerts on the Hill, but I felt different for reasons other than my age. 30s sporty dykes in baseball hats and 40s+ suburbadyke librarians were smashed together rocking out to music that was far too loud for them. I really wondered how many of them had even been to a show that heavy. It was totally bizarre seeing these guilty smiles and eyes full of wonder at the sheer volume of their idol. The die-hard Amy fans soaked her in (literally) and many covered their ears when they weren’t head banging. I doubt anyone there had actually seen Team Dresch or Hazel or had even been to Neumo’s before, a club I had many memories from back when it was called Moe’s (get it? New Moe’s?). I looked around wondering if anyone else there was having the same bizarre experiences I was: hearing Amy and Jody sing together, like peanut butter and chocolate – two things I loved separately but had never imagined together. I was relishing in the wonder of their combination, while everyone else was simply stunned to see Amy rock out so hard.
GF was worried that Amy is losing her voice from singing so hard, and there were a few times she tried to sing high parts and nothing came out. Amy even said something about it, referring to "abusing her vocal chords" and she sprayed something in her throat between songs. I think this tour is hard on her vocally but that she’ll come back rested for the IG tour this summer. I would imagine that her voice is being damaged over time and that hopefully she’ll take better care of it but then again, it’s kind of like people who ride motorcycles – at least they’ll die doing something they love.
Whenever I see the Indigo Girls I always think back to that first time I saw them. It was 1988 and I was 18 and my favorite local band Two Nice Girls were opening up for them at a small club on South Lamar in Austin. I had to be home by 11 but as soon as the Indigo Girls started, I was just enthralled and knew that I would willingly suffer any consequence just so I could savor every last note they were going to play (I think I was grounded for 2 weeks but it was worth it!). I remember Amy singing “Blood and Fire“ and it was absolutely transcending. We were stunned. Afterwards I remember saying to my friend Kim, “Wouldn’t it be so awesome if the rocker chick actually started her own band?” On one hand I can’t believe she actually did it, but on the other I can’t believe she waited so long. I don’t care, just keep screaming, Amy, that’s all I ever wanted.