On Thursday night I went to Merriweather Post Pavilion to see Brandi Carlile with Allison Russell and the Indigo Girls opening for her. It was like a mini modern day Lilith Fair with so many amazing musical women lifting each other up. Allison Russell has had an amazing year and deserves all the accolades she has received, but she will tell you that Brandi has helped lift her up and achieve all those dreams. Brandi talked about how much the Indigo Girls mean to her and how she used to busk outside their shows as a teenager and then how she opened for them early in her career and they would invite her to hang out on their bus and how much it meant to her. Now she is at a place in her career where she is headlining the large venues that the Indigo Girls would not be able to headline anymore and she’s bringing them out to open up for her in some kind of full circle thing. Allison Russell is following in their footsteps and using whatever power she has to help bring up people behind her as well. She has an amazing band of women backing her up who all have their own other stuff going on and she never misses an opportunity to highlight them and their work and encourage people to go seek it out. That includes SistaStrings who were doing double duty with Allison and Brandi. I first got introduced to SistaStrings, who are sisters Monique Ross on the cello and Chauntee Ross on the violin, back in February when I saw Allison Russell play at the Barns at Wolf Trap. Then when Brandi started this tour I saw that they were playing has half of the string quartet she’s been touring with the last few albums. I was like she stole them from Allison! Anyway, they played in both sets, and they are a real force. My favorite part of the whole show was the last minute and a half of the Brandi’s song “Sinners, Saints, and Fools” when they were basically headbanging while playing stringed instruments. It was pretty amazing. The sound in this video is pretty terrible, but I’m linking to the part I’m talking about from someone’s cell phone video if you care to look.
Allison Russell was up first. She only played for a half hour, which was what I was expecting, but I still wish it had been longer. She did come back out and perform with both the Indigo Girls and Brandi Carlile though. I love watching her and her band perform. It’s just a big old love fest out on the stage with them, and they can all really jam.
The Indigo Girls were up next. I expected that they would have an hour, but I was surprised that they only played for 40 minutes. That’s because Brandi is really giving it her all this tour. Her set clocked in at 2 hours and 15 minutes. That’s almost unheard of these days. If you get longer than 90 minutes from the headliner at most shows you’re lucky. Anyway, parts of the Indigo Girls set were a fun singalong, which was great. Sadly, most of their set was ruined for me by the obnoxious women who finally showed up to sit in the seats in front of us 2 songs into the Indigo Girls’ set. I wish that my super power was not attracting the absolutely worst people in any concert venue to be situated directly by me. I’m out here saving the rest of you from them I guess. They were obviously already drunk and/or high when they stumbled in. They would not shut up. They were having obnoxiously loud conversations even during quiet songs when everyone else was sitting and trying to listen to the music. They were paying zero attention to the concert. I’m not sure why they bothered paying hundreds of dollars to be there. They could have done the same thing at a bar for free. I guess then they couldn’t have had the zillions of selfies they took of themselves at the concert. Mind you this was two women who looked like they were probably sisters in their 50s plus a twentysomething woman who was one of their daughters. Not who I would have stereotypically pegged to ruin my night in this manner, but they did and not just mine. Other people sitting around them finally ran them out of the show with a little over an hour left in Brandi’s set, so we at least got to enjoy that. The people in front of them and sitting next to them kept yelling at them to shut up. It still didn’t get me completely away from them, but once it was clear that no was coming to sit in the 6 seats to my left a couple of songs into Brandi’s set, I moved down 4 seats to get away from them. They finally took the hint and left, but I can guarantee when they tell the story they will not be the villains in it. It’s too bad because I had been enjoying people watching until they showed up and ruined it. That included realizing that the man in his 60s and the girl maybe in her late 20s/early 30s a few rows ahead of us were in fact a couple and not the father and daughter I thought at first.
Brandi’s set was great. As I already said she played forever. A good mix of stuff of her new album and her previous ones though mostly the newer ones aside from “The Story”. That was the most singalong version of that song I’ve heard at all the many concerts of hers I’ve been to. This crowd was obviously in the mood to sing. I’ve been to a lot of Brandi Carlile shows as you probably know if you’ve read this blog for any amount of time, so I know it’s not unusual for her to say that a show is one the best nights she’s had in her life or the last decade or something to that effect. She doesn’t say it 100% of the time, so I honestly think she believes it when she says it though it’s definitely part of her act. It doesn’t matter though because she will 100% convince you she’s never said that to anyone else with her performance. She and her band put it all out there. They always put on such a good show. During her encore, which was over 30 minutes long she had Allison Russell out to sing “You’re Not Alone”, which they had just released as a single earlier that day. She also had the Indigo Girls come out and sing a couple songs with her including “Least Complicated”. Talk about a singalong. It was a great night and it would have been perfect if it wasn’t for those dumb women. I’m glad that they only impacted half my night, but it would have been better if had been none of it.