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Neon Tommy - Annenberg digital news

Liz Phair Concert At El Rey Is Less Than Extraordinary

Sarah Erickson |
October 10, 2010 | 6:09 a.m. PDT


 Sarah Erickson)
Sarah Erickson)
With a partially filled but fully-invested audience, Liz Phair held her own in a concert at the El Rey Friday night and proved she’s still a rocker, at least in attitude and mad guitar skills. 

Phair’s music in general can be described as a mix of guitar rock and pop with definite country influences.

The only music of hers that I was familiar with prior to the show was from her 2003 self-titled album, which featured such pop-hits as “Extraordinary” and “Why Can’t I.” 

The evening’s set featured one of those songs, but the rest was new material to me. I was alone on that front, as almost every person around me knew and enthusiastically sang along to each tune.

With her signature low register voice sounding almost guttural in nature, I truly couldn’t make out a majority of the lyrics to her songs. But a hip-swinging beat was there. And the crowd certainly enjoyed itself. 

Phair’s guitar skills were undeniable, as she seamlessly strummed (nearly) every song and swapped out electric guitars every few numbers.

Her initially lukewarm energy onstage grew as she became more comfortable and took on a “hell if I care” attitude through the progression of the show.

For those who have never been to the El Rey, it’s a comfortably-sized old theater on Wilshire with just enough old-Hollywood charm in the chandeliers to make it cozy yet modern. A great venue for a small concert, which at about half-capacity this was. 

Though Phair performed well, the opening act caught my attention most out of the whole evening’s performance.

Bushwalla, an eager-to-please, self-described “acoustic white-man rapper” did a terrific job of warming up the Friday-night crowd.

With songs like “It’s hard to be a gangster with a basket on your bike” in homage to his car-less experience living in LA, his humor was both goofy and endearing and added to his fresh music. I look forward to his next LA show. 

All in all it was a worthwhile evening out to see the show. Phair’s voice and overall sound are not my preference, but her performance proved that she can still rock, and her crowd simply loved her for it. 

To reach reporter Sarah Erickson click here.

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