Why does the lady in the tan cargo shorts have a sad look on her face? Probably because this was the weekend that Lilith Fair was supposed to come to Cricket Wireless Pavilion but didn't.
Why? Anemic ticket sales. Unless you harbor some kind of SB 1070-backlash conspiracy theory — and some do — there's really no disputing it. This is what logicians call the "proximate cause."
But the ultimate cause? According to Lilith Fair co-founder Terry McBride — who made the decision to cancel the Phoenix show a month ago, along with an August date in Tennessee — it's this gosh-darn recession.
Lilith Fair was scheduled for this week before organizers axed it.
"We're in the middle of a recession," McBride helpfully reminds us. "The interesting thing is we're stronger than most (festivals), but tickets are soft. Canada, I think, has been affected by the recession, America has been slammed by it."
Uh, sorry, but I'm calling bullshit. As hundreds of Valley music fans who couldn't get tickets for April's sold-out Coachella Music and Arts Festival will tell you, demand for live music is strong, recession or no.
Ultimately, the reason the resurrected Lilith Fair is falling short of sales goals across North America is that it fails to promise a pleasure reward proportional to cost. Put another way, it sucks.
Yes, that's a deeply subjective and possibly chauvinistic analysis, but the suckiness is self-evident. So here are the top five reasons you shouldn't be upset that the Valley is Lilith Fair-free this fine weekend.
Reason No. 5: It's sooooo '90s.
Back in the day, Canadian singer-songwriter Sarah McLachlan launched Lilith Fair because she was fed up with music promoters refusing to book female acts back to back. Owing, perhaps, to the festival's subsequent commercial success, double-distaff bookings are no longer rare. Destiny's Child broke through by opening for Christina Aguilera, Tegan and Sara opens for the female-fronted Paramore, Colbie Caillat opens for Sheryl Crow, etc. So where's the novelty? Today, Lilith Fair is a third-wave feminist relic in a fourth-wave feminist world.
Reason No. 4: No Go-Go's.
The Go-Go's are unquestionably awesome. I mean, who doesn't like The Go-Go's? Not liking the Go-Go's is like not liking three-day weekends, classic Mustangs, and Rocky Road ice cream. Not liking the Go-Go's is dangerously un-American and should probably constitute grounds for deportation. (That's not actually a suggestion, Madame Governor.) So seeing the Go-Go's would have been a great reason to buy Lilith Fair tickets, had crazy-girl guitarist Jane Wiedlin not busted up her knee hiking a few weeks ago, forcing the band to scrap their planned Farewell Tour. Just as well — lead singer Belinda Carlisle was threatening to boycott our asses anyway.
Reason No. 3: It's vaguely "misandrist."
Generally, reverse-discrimination accusations have little or no merit — for instance, the odious idea that the NAACP is a "racist" organization. But it's also true that advocacy groups sometimes have difficulty finding purposeful ground when social tectonics shift in their favor. That's Lilith Fair, yo. You say you prefer female music acts? At Coachella, you could have spent Friday hopping from Kate Miller-Heide to Alana Grace to Sleigh Bells to She & Him to La Roux to Imogen Heap to Fever Ray, which as a musical experience is only — what? — 50 times more interesting than any lineup booked by Lilith Fair ever?! The defining purpose of Lilith Fair is not to book good music, but to exclude male music, and that's misandrist (which is the flip side of misogyny and totally my new favorite word).
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Reason No. 2: Singer-songwriter overload.
Imagine a male-only music festival in which the lineup consisted of John Mayer, Pete Yorn, Jack Johnson, Rufus Wainwright, Jason Mraz, and a bunch of gushy folk turds you've barely heard of. That's Lilith Fair. 'Nuff said.
Reason No. 1: Sarah McLachlan headlines it.
Sarah McLachlan is a lovely, godlike musical being who hasn't released a truly great album since Surfacing (1997). Is she worth seeing in concert? Well, sure. So is Beck — but it ain't like the old days. Plus, whenever I hear "Angel," all I can think of are those pathetic little shelter animals in the TV ad with their wet, pleading, adopt-me eyes. So forget Lilith Fair. Adopt a cat.