St. Vincent speaks out against Lilith Fair


In a recent interview with, doe-eyed beauty Annie Clark (perhaps better known as her musical alter ego St. Vincent) had some harsh words about Lilith Fair and the women’s music movement in general. In some ways I can understand where she’s coming from, but in others I think she really missed the mark.

As someone who agonized for weeks ahead of time trying to find the perfect outfit to wear to the festival all three years, it was a stab in the uterus to hear Clark say, “The Lilith Fair thing was Bummer Town — hey, hop aboard the marginalizing train. I guess you had people come out of that and have careers, but I think there was a pretty intense backlash, too.”

According to the site, “…she attended the 1998 edition in Dallas because her aunt and uncle’s band (jazz duo Tuck & Patti) shared a manager with <ahref=”″>Bonnie Raitt. And because Clark wanted to see Erykah Badu, who was slotted criminally early on the bill.”

I saw both Bonnie Raitt and Erykah Badu, along with my hero Patty Griffin, Susan Tedeschi (who was a complete new-comer at the time), Des’Ree, Tracy Bonham (hello, “Mother Mother” was the jam!) and Neko Case, to name a few. How could anyone call this Bummer Town? It’s more like Queensland!

Clark goes further to say, “It was just white people who wanted to see the Indigo Girls,” she recalls. “It also helped perpetuate this idea that what women do in music is acoustic, sincere, sentimental and without an edge to it.”

Well, I hear everything is bigger in Texas, so maybe the white Indigo Girl fan base is bigger there too. When I was at the festival in Chicago, I couldn’t tell you what race the audience was — I was too focused on the music (which is kind of what the festival is all about, no?)

I honestly can’t understand where she is getting this whole “marginalization train” thing. In 1998 the other male-dominated festivals weren’t exactly begging these acts to join them (even her favoriteBadu — although I did get to see her at Smokin ‘ Grooves that year). What Annie forgets, maybe especially because she has pursued her dream and it doesn’t involve an acoustic guitar, is that this was something that brought women together to celebrate each other through the power of music. The festival didn’t make me stop searching for different kinds of music, instead it got me interested in searching for more.

She says, “I just don’t see music on those gender terms,” but when she speaks of the festival it seems as though that’s exactly how she’s seeing it. She isn’t separating the music from the idea of the festival itself.

Lilith Fair is making a comeback in 2010, and I’d actually love it if St. Vincent was on the lineup because I think her music is beautiful and rich. In my opinion, her solo work is 1000 times better than anything her group The Polyphonic Spree came up with. I don’t care who ends up on the bill, how could I deny a festival that combines my love of women with my love of music? It’s like a Happy Meal to be shared with my friends and all my past and present ex-girlfriends.

What are your thoughts on women-only festivals like Lilith Fair?

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