Words by Jen Piasecki

Hoboken, NJ — Liz Phair never ceases to surprise me, but always amazes me. Some would say I have a girl-crush on her and I would agree completely. As she stepped out onto the stage in the small back room of Maxwell’s in Hoboken, with the water from the pouring (and freezing) December rain coming through a hole in the ceiling, Liz Phair, the grungy, gritty woman with the primadonna face owns the room. Her petite frame is almost giant-like in front of an intimate crowd of fans as she begins her tour to promote her self-released album Funstyle.


Strutting onstage and greeting the mixed crowd – literally from the ages of 18 to 81 (probably the strangest crowd I have ever seen, including the guy banging his cane in front of me) – the sexy songstress pounds out the chords from “Supernova,” starting strong and continuing the crescendo of energy way through the night. The majority of her set was from her popular first release, Exile in Guyville, which was re-released in 2008. Even though I was only 12 when it first came out, I connect with Exile (and Liz) in many ways so I was beyond thrilled. Phair shared with us those classic songs we have all connected with at some time or another through her gritty, soft and soulful voice which trills and shakes occasionally showing that true emotion we want to hear in her music; this is what makes you believe what she’s singing. From the straightforward ‘Never Said’ to the sad yet realistic ‘Fuck and run’ [of which I wrote an analytical paper in my first year of college], the only break in the show was when Phair and her guitarist momentarily spoke about the possibility of being abducted by aliens, which she, “believes is true.” It almost made us concerned for a minute until they continued beautifully through; the break, however, displaying Phair’s apparent unease onstage opening up to a room full of people.

Phair’s truthful and honest lyrics attract us to her and the energy in the small room mirrored that. The crowd never let up, singing and dancing along to every song, including those from Funstyle: ‘And He Slayed Her’ and ‘Oh, Bangladesh’. Though Phair’s latest album is a bit quirky and slightly hokey, these two songs fit perfectly in between some of her most popular songs, including ‘Polyester Bride’ and the pop-tastic, everyone says she sold out but I think she made a smart move ‘Extraordinary’. It is true there has always been a raw, honest truth to her music and there is no letting up of that gritty beauty in her live shows; especially since as you see her sing, you know she’s experienced it. You can see the unapologetic, sexy emotion and in a place as small as Maxwell’s, you can feel at daring, unapologetic and quirky energy in the room. And the beauty of the entire night is when I was given the opportunity to share with her how much I loved the show to which she replied, “Rock on!” Rock on is definitely what she does best!

Help Me Mary
Divorce Song
May Queen
Never Said
And He Slayed Her
Polyester Bride
Perfect World
Oh, Bangladesh
Fuck and Run
Girl’s Room
Soap Star Joe
Go, Speed Racer
Johnny Feelgood


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