Liz Phair is busy. 2018 marks the 25th anniversary of her critically acclaimed Exile in Guyville, an album that Pitchfork considers one of the greatest of all time. The album set the tone for much of the 90’s, all thanks to Phair’s signature sound and candid, brazen lyrics.
After performing with Soccer Mommy to an intimate crowd in June, Liz Phair already returned to the Twin Cities, much to the delight of her fans. The Amps On the Lawn tour touched down at a sold-out First Avenue last night and it did not disappoint.
Opening act Speedy Ortiz has a devoted following of their own. Named Noisey’s Artist of the Year in 2015, the band delivers poetic lyricism set to indie rock, much of which is written by Sadie Dupuis. Dupuis, a poetry MFA, is a powerful songwriter, singer, and guitarist.
A pink bow in her hair softened the blow of her biting lyrics. Her confidence was palpable as she spoke between sets, touching on subjects like sexual assault. Dupuis explained that they’d be bringing a book called “Making Spaces Safer” to each stop on the tour, a guide that helps venues fight against discrimination and harassment.
You could feel the crowd’s energy as Liz Phair came on stage, igniting loud cheers from both 80’s babies and indie millennials. Phair immediately made it clear that she had not smoothed out her beloved rough edges, opening with the risqué song “Flower.”
Liz played all the songs her fans would want to hear, delighting them with classics like “Polyester Bride.” Backed by an all-male band, Liz’s feminine grunge shone bright as she sang with a flirty twinkle in her eye.
Instead of walking off stage for an encore, Liz allowed her band to “take a break” while she spoke to the crowd. She was wearing a shirt from St. Cloud, and she explained that “some guy had given [it to] her” in the meet and greet line. She spoke with an ease that only an icon can have, an assuredness that she was being listened to.
Before long, the guys were back on stage to help Liz close out with “Divorce Song,” a blunt and endearing hit that had shot her to stardom in the 90’s. And for good reason. Somehow, the lyrics still resonate, and Phair’s performance felt nothing short of timeless.