Aug. 9, 2010
By Katelyn Gendron
Reminder Assistant Editor
HARTFORD, CONN. -- Have you ever woken up one Sunday morning and thought, "Hey. I'd like to do something, anything, outside my normal lawn mowing, dog walking, barbeque summer weekend ritual?"
My sister did on Aug. 1 and she decided that we should go to Lilith Fair at the Comcast Theatre in Hartford, Conn. Now before you snicker, as I did, let me just say, that Lilith Fair -- not to mention the Comcast Theatre's concert offerings this summer -- is not a bunch of heart-broken, angry man-haters playing downtrodden ballads that would make you want to slit your wrists. On the contrary: chick music rocks!
I've got to admit, I was skeptical about spending the entire day outdoors listening to lesser-known artists outside of my favored hip-hop genre but I've got to say Nneka, Missy Higgins, Ingrid Michaelson, Sara Bareilles, Indigo Girls and Sarah McLachlan made me a believer.
Nneka (www.nnekaworld.com) is a Nigerian-born Afro-beat artist who delivered the most passionate stage performance I've ever seen.
At first, Nneka seemed to take pleasure performing her first song to an imaginary audience behind her closed eyes but once she opened them, we were captivated by her presence. She sung of heartbreak, suffering, perseverance and optimism with such passion that she brought herself to tears during the set.
Nneka's sound is a unique blend of hip-hop, soul and Afro-beat that channels the legendary Bob Marley.
Her third album but first U.S. release, "Concrete Jungle," dropped in February and garnered two nominations as "Indigenous Artist of the Year" and "Best Soul/Neo Soul Act of the Year" at the 2010 Nigerian Entertainment Awards, which will take place Sept. 18 in New York City.
Ingrid Michaelson (www.ingridmichaelson.com), an indie, folk rock artist from Staten Island, N.Y., took a more light-hearted approach to her set. She calls her sound, "Toothpaste: minty and fresh." I've got to agree.
Michaelson's 2007 hit, "The Way I Am," put her on the map when it was featured in an episode of the ABC drama "Grey's Anatomy," as well as the hook for an Old Navy commercial the same year promoting their Fair Isle sweater. She has since released two more albums, the latest of which, 2009's "Everybody," reached number 18 on the Billboard 200 chart.
Michaelson took the stage sporting a casual outfit, eyeglasses, pigtails and a girl next-door demeanor, proving that no female artist is too cool to play the ukulele or cover a song by Britney Spears.
To complete her set, Michaelson covered Spears' 2004 hit, "Toxic," far better than Spears' could have performed on her best day. The crowd jubilantly received Michaelson's humor and enthusiasm for the number as she, with the help of her band mates, took the last few bars to perform a choreographed number.
Aussie Missy Higgins (www.missyhiggins.com) didn't disappoint either, illuminating the stage with just her keyboard, her guitar and one man on backup vocals, bass and drums.
She performed her songs, heavily influenced by her idol Sarah McLachlan, with grace and talent well beyond her 26 years. Higgins is a young woman clearly dedicated to her craft, performing piano, synthesizer, guitar, melodica (wind piano) and xylophone.
Although a talented and successful pop singer-songwriter, having won seven Australian Recording Industry Association Music Awards since 2004, Higgins remained humble, thanking the crowd often for attending her performance.
Her first U.S. single, "Where I Stood," put her on the U.S. radar when it was featured on "Grey's Anatomy" and the CW's "One Tree Hill." Her music has also been featured on film soundtracks, including 2008's "Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2."
Higgins is steadily inching her way into the charts and iPods of the American culture, having sold more than 260,000 albums and the best is yet to come.
Higgins also made a cameo during Sara Bareilles' (www.sarabmusic.com) set. She added a solemn, sophisticated tone to her female counterpart who took her time on stage to drink up, toast the audience and perform songs about hated exes.
Bareilles confessed to being "overly emotional," and heavily influenced musically by personal experiences, especially the ups and downs of love. She even took time away from the piano to cut loose "and get her inner Beyonc on" with a sassy version of "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)."
Bareilles explained that for her current single, "King of Anything" and upcoming album, "Kaleidoscope Heart," which will be released Sept. 7, she had to force herself to write up-tempo numbers to remind her that others can't keep her down. The album is a follow up to 2007's chart-topping "Little Voice" with hit pop singles "Love Song" and "Bottle it Up,"
Overall, Bareilles was refreshingly real and uncensored on stage, the way we all shouldn't be afraid to act.
Closing out the day were music legends the Indigo Girls (www.indigogirls.com), now, very much women, and Lilith Fair Founder Sarah McLachlan (www.sarahmclachlan.com). They were everything you'd expect from pioneering female artists of their generations.
If you missed an inspiring day at Lilith Fair, don't despair because there are plenty of wild nights ahead for those willing to venture to the Comcast Theatre.
The lineup for those wishing to party on the lawn or inside the amphitheater includes Green Day, with special guest AFI on Aug. 12, Jonas Brothers on Aug. 13, Brooks & Dunn Farewell Tour on Aug. 14, Zac Brown Band on Aug. 15, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers on Aug. 17, Ozzfest, featuring Ozzy Osbourne and Motley Crew on Aug. 21 and Toby Keith on Sept. 24.
For tickets, visit www.livenation.com.
Oh, and be sure to bring lots of sun block and some serious cash for pricey concessions! Enjoy!
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