You don’t need me to tell you all of the great things about Liz Phair. You don’t need me to tell you that she turned indie music on its head with her 1993 album Exile In Guyville. You don’t need me to tell you that she effortlessly reinvented herself as a pop icon without breaking a sweat. You don’t need me to tell you that she rapped on a track called “Bollywood.” You don’t need me to tell you any of this because Liz has been doing a damn fine job of it for the last 3+ decades.
Exile In Guyvile, which turns 30 this year, was a landmark album of raw, unfiltered emotion. Phair laid all her cards on the table and struck a winning hand, crafting one of the decade’s most important indie rock albums. Eschewing the enigmatic prose popular amongst her contemporaries, she ripped the bandaid off and exposed the raw truth. There was no confusion about where Liz Phair stood and who she was addressing. The first track on the album, “6’1”” is her statement of confidence, “standing up to the guy” as she once put it, and everything that follows is built off of that fearlessness.
Phair headed to Franklin Music Hall Wednesday night to join Philly in celebrating the album’s milestone. Though she’s grown (and changed styles) significantly since Guyville’s release, Phair has never forgotten the woman she was, and how important that time in her life was. Like an old friend stopping by after an extended absence, she made herself at home amongst the audience, and they welcomed her with open arms. Phair hasn’t lost any of her edge since the album’s release, her voice still gravelly when it needs to be, and soaring when called for. The songs are still fresh when many other albums from the era have passed their expiration date.
Accompanying her on the tour were LA-based act Blondshell. Sabrina Mae Teitelbaum’s project shares a lot of threads with Phair and makes a fitting opening act. Similar in their honest approach, frank and funny lyrics, and affinity for wicked guitar licks that will make your neck snap, they’re touring behind Tietelbaum’s debut self-titled album Blondshell.