Saturday, March 21, 2009

Tori Amos Debuts New Material at SXSW

This was the one year I really wish I had gone to SXSW and could've paid cash for it. I know you can volunteer but already heard from some locals the experience isn't pleasant. So I guess I didn't want to go that much. There were some great panels including Blacks in Tech, and participants including Racialicious, Rob Fields and others. Now SXSW has expanded into Film and Interactive sessions, but it's still the music that brings all the people in the yard. 

This year drew some big names to the festival including one Tori Amos. Usually established artists at her level don't go back to play these events but she was never one to follow convention anyway. Plus, picking up some new fans never hurts. She performed three songs from her 10th studio release "Abnormally Attracted to Sin", which will be out May 19th - hey that's my mom's birthday!  Do you think mom would be mad if I bought her the CD and burned a copy for myself?! Ha! 

Now before some of you get either excited or riled-up by the title alone you should read her autobiography, Piece By Piece where she goes into detail about her religious upbringing (her dad's a minister) and some of her views. Amos isn't adverse to controversy - after all she posed with a piglet clutched to her chest so that it appeared she was suckling it! She even took on Enimen back in the day (see where his career went) for his misogyny, stating people would dance to songs where there was "blood on their sneakers" and not even notice. 

I am unabashed fan, even if I sometimes feel she's slipped us a pill on the way down the musical rabbit hole. She has a child and husband to attend to and doesn't tour as much as she used to but certain cities she's known to play multiple gigs and she usually does a completely different set. This does all but guarantee the need to see her more than once. Now the last time she came to San Francisco area she played 3 nights at Oakland's Paramount Theatre where the seats are spacious and cushy and the acoustics are excellent. 

I didn't have a blog then for I most likely would have written a scathing review about how pissed I was that there was a camera crew shooting her DVD and the dolly went back and forth every 30 seconds obstructing our view. It's not like there was any advanced warning about it and the shows were sold out. Now that was an otherwise glaring blip on usually excellent shows.

I met Tori in London in 2003. Live and in person in her very warm dressing room and she referred to me as a "beautiful mocha presence". Honestly only Tori could get away with saying something like that. There's a story involved in how I met somebody milling about the venue entrance before the show who knew somebody who worked for Tori and offered to let us backstage past her (intimidating) bodyguard to meet her. She was absolutely lovely and gracious and it was totally unexpected. I don't have the pictures because the other person was a jealous lizard who kept them all!! It wasn't my camera used as it was unexpected. I have the memories though as well as the encouraging words of a woman who's fought to maintain a career in a less and less forgiving industry where they want fluff over substance. I also know to bring a camera with me at all times now - or use the cell phone!

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