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Cool as Chrissie

[whitespace] Ex-Pretender Chrissie Hynde rocked Lilith

By David Espinoza

THE TEMPTATION to say that last week's Lilith Fair stop at the Shoreline was an absolute bore is a difficult one to resist. Besides the fact that the lineup consisted of well-established (e.g. safe) acts like the Pretenders, Sheryl Crowe and Sarah McLachlan, what happened to the supposed more inclusive (e.g. less white) format? True, there was the young R&B diva Mya opening Tuesday's main stage and Japan's Cibo Matto on Wednesday, but that was pretty much it. While different acts have come and gone during the tour, in a multicultural state like California, was this the best the Lilith organizers could offer? Where was Chicana rocker Lysa Flores? Or up and coming hip-hop queen Medusa and Feline Science?

That little tirade aside, Tuesday's Lilith Fair was in all honesty a memorable show. For one thing, the contrast of Chrissie Hynde's too-cool-for-words rock-star attitude with Crowe and McLachlan's down-to-earth feel-good pop worked perfectly, lending the show a much-needed balance of Cruella de Vil and Cinderella. Given the fact that all three artists could easily have headlined their own summer tour but chose to do it together is a testament to female unity in a business dominated by egos.

Speaking of egos, was I the only person who found Sandra Bernhard's intermission babbling a tad annoying? For some reason or other, Bernhard felt the need to tell an inane anecdote about her relationship with Courtney Love and how the singer-turned-model/actress has changed her life. Perhaps it was an attempt to expose just how shallow and useless rock stars are, but come on, that fact has been well established since the '70s. Thankfully, Bernhard got off stage and the crowd stood up to see a true rock & roll legend, the Pretenders.

Of all the performers on Tuesday's bill, Chrissie Hynde deserves the most credit, if not for being one of the earliest female rockers to reach mainstream success, then for surviving the burnout syndrome without a scratch as well. Stepping out onto the massive Shoreline stage wearing a gold oversized sports jacket with shoulder pads, tight black jeans and signature mod haircut, Hynde was the epitome of '80s chic. As she picked up her sparkling silver Telecaster and coolly cruised through old and new material, you could see why Hynde remains one of the most respected of front women. On a passing note, Hynde was also the only artist to offer any edginess to an otherwise tame show. At one point she asked the crowd, "What do you call the fleshy worthless part of the penis? The man."

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From the July 22-28, 1999 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © 1999 Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

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