concert reviews

Chicks With Attitude at the 9:30 Club, Washington, DC, Friday 3 September 2004

The "Chicks With Attitude" tour hit the 9:30 club on Friday night with four performers ranging in 'tude from brooding teenager Katy Rose to pop star-mom Liz Phair.

Swedish rockers the Cardigans gave a solid set of melancholy melodies, with Nina Persson's lilting vocals wafting over her band's simple but full arrangements. The Cardigans' songs were more pensive than angry, such as the outstanding "Communication" and the hopeful "A Good Horse." Overall, the Cardigans' set steered far clear of the fluffy pop that first made them famous -- and although they didn't play their biggest hit, "Lovefool," Phair opened her set with it in celebration of the tour's final night.

Despite the tour's moniker, showing attitude wasn't always a good thing: Rose -- who looks and sounds like Avril Lavigne -- spewed teen angst in a half-hour set that was memorable more for her dancing than for her music. The show's opener, Charlotte Martin, played piano with a nod to Tori Amos's dramatic phrasings, and while her reverb-soaked vocals expanded her sound in the absence of a backing band, her maudlin singing overwhelmed her cover of "Wild Horses."

If attitude were measured by the shortness of one's skirt, Phair would've won the gold medal. While her muffled vocals drew unnecessary attention to her recorded vocal overdubs, Phair's energy kept the audience bouncing 4 1/2 hours after the music first started as she alternated between her early classics and new pop hits.

And because apparently a chick can show more attitude with the proper makeup, tour sponsor Maybelline had a makeover booth set up within the club -- and free eye shadow samples at the end of the show.

-- Catherine P. Lewis

.: Originally published: The Washington Post, 6 September 2004
.: Selected discography:
    - Liz Phair: Liz Phair (2003); whitechocolatespaceegg (1998); Whip-Smart (1995); Exile in Guyville (1993).
    - the Cardigans: Long Gone Before Daylight (2004); Gran Turismo (1998); Life (1996); First Band on the Moon (1996).
    - Katy Rose: Because I Can (2004).
    - Charlotte Martin: On Your Shore (2004).