Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Rocktober: Billy's Lilith Fair, a.k.a. Bilith Fair

When Sarah McLachlan attempted to revitalize the late 90s modest Grrl Power success story of Lilith Fair for a v2.0 run in 2010, things didn’t go as planned. A third of the dates were cancelled, and several artists backed out for fear of not getting paid. Taking full responsibility for the failure, McLachlan told The Globe & Mail:
"Bringing the same thing back last year really didn’t make any sense, in retrospect, without due diligence being done on how women have changed... In 12 years, women have changed a lot. Their expectations have changed, the way they view the world has changed, and that was not taken into consideration, which I blame myself for.”
She’s right, of course. Add to this the not-minor fact that the music scene is in the midst of an armageddon of sorts, an earthquake that has megastars giving away their music and nobodies rocketing to the top of the charts but making minimal money in the process. It hasn’t been all bad for women, though.

The 21st Century music scene has mirrored the rest of corporate and artistic America in that women are no longer the lessers. In most cases, they’re neck-and-neck if not outright ahead of their male counterparts.

College-educated women make up a lower percentage of the unemployed than their male contemporaries.

Fifteen of the Top 20 NYTimes bestsellers are authored by women (yes, I’m counting Nicholas Sparks as a woman), and four of the men are there by riding the coattails of long-running characters Virgil Flowers, Stone Barrington, Michael Bennett and Jack Reacher. All 10 of the 11-20 sales are by women authors.

All of the top 5 Billboard Top 100 spots are currently claimed by women, although their numbers dwindle noticeably after that. Very soon Taylor Swift will probably occupy every spot in the top 10 with static.

(Amusing side note: Only two of the Top 10 Country songs are by women. The Age of the Country Woman has begun to dwindle. Then again, Country is currently in the Glam Rock phase of mid-80s rock, and no one sane and interested in making good music really wants to compete for the drinkin’ sleazin’ boot-scootin’ truckin’ competition that currently marks the race to the top of the country charts.)

With the exception of Bonnaroo, it seems that the time of music festivals and events with a Star-Studded Lineup of Musicians is in the past. Unless you count the never-ending string of music awards shows on network television that exist solely to cover up the fact that their regular programming sucks. I don’t. Count music awards shows.

The lovely and talented Sarah McLachlan was right, though. Her attempt to revitalize Lilith failed because she failed to realize that the landscape of feminism and music had changed underneath her. I can fix that.

I would like to propose Billy’s Lilith Fair, or BILITH FAIR. Two-days per stop. Eight cities. Done. General ground rules:
  1. Instead of stubbornly creating a lineup built to attract women, build a lineup that would play like the best kind of Ladies Night at a good bar. Aim for 35% attendance by males who believe they can find an impressive and appealing assortment of heterosexual women in the audience.
  2. A wide mix of styles should evolve throughout the day, from folk and country to rock and electronic, but with of course the bigger names at the peak hours.
  3. Start smart, end wild. Start smooth, end with a party. It's gotta end by partying like it's 1999.
None of the acts can be so strong and popular that they sell out big venues by themselves. This should be the Kansas City Royals of female musicians, not the Yankees. It should be Texas Christian, not Texas. It should be Trapper John, M.D., not M.A.S.H. It should be a celebration of music that just happens to be female-led, not a celebration of females who just happen to play music.

My lineup for the 2-day, 2-stage Bilith Fair tour. Eight stops. The order of acts could be improved. You could add a few and drop a few names and lose little of the pull or punch.

Day One
(acts on alternate stages throughout the day, 90-minute sets, noon to midnight)

  • Lori McKenna
    • Boy
  • Holly Williams
    • Haley Bonar
  • Lucius
    • Ingrid Michaelson
  • Kacey Musgraves
    • Jenny Lewis
  • Sleeper Agent
    • Sara Bareilles
  • Garbage
    • Sleigh Bells

Day Two

  • Caitlin Rose
    • Jenny Owen Youngs
  • Shovels & Rope
    • Broods
  • Lake Street Dive
    • Haim
  • ZZ Ward
    • Chvrches
  • Brody Dalle
    • Tegan & Sara
  • Grace Potter & the Nocturnals
    • Paramore

Additional acts for consideration or substitution:
Tift Merritt
Hurray for the Riff Raff
Katie Herzig
Lana Del Rey
The Royalty
Neko Case
Zola Jesus
Lykke Li
K.T. Tunstall
The Rescues (or just Kyler England and Adrianne Gonzales)
St. Vincent
Against Me!
Patty Griffin
Brandi Carlisle
Indigo Girls

1 comment:

Bob said...

Well, heck. I'll comment. It would be a hell of a festival and I don't even know who all of these women are.