“I never claimed to be a Public Speaker…But that doesn’t mean I’m not grateful!”
Oh, Lydia Loveless what more can be said about you? The Bunbury Music Festival was there for the taking on the Amphitheater Stage and you owned it. The thing is, not enough people were there to appreciate and enjoy the shear perfection that you wrought. Ultimately it is their loss. All those dive bars, honkytonks, roadhouses, and lest we not forget, the punk bar Bernie’s in Columbus that touched your past which certainly appeared in your performance that Friday at Bunbury. It sure was a great thing to behold! There’s the fact that you occasionally use former journal entries to birth your songs…So much better than Taylor Swift. Please, I’m begging you; your other fans are begging you, please do not stop mining lost loves, sweet childhood memories, and writings from your journal material. (Unlike the aforementioned Swift. She can just go away.) Don’t stop being, “One of the boys”, just because you’ve found love finally.
Please, don’t stop being one of the boys. None of your fans want your music to suffer. Yet we all love the fact that you can be all woman as well. So there she was center stage of the Amphitheater of the Bunbury Music Festival. To be honest, I didn’t know much about her and that is why you go to music festivals. To see acts that you are interested in, right? Lydia Loveless did not disappoint! Initially, she was not a very engaging performer. Here she stood at the mic, sunglasses on, hair in her face with very little banter between songs. Yet it was her voice. That voice. It was the stories that she weaved with her songs that drew you in. Again, she may not have initially moved the crowd with physical displays of showmanship or conversational banter, but damn did her songs ever suffice. However, she eventually did have by far, the most profound comment of the whole weekend. After finishing a song she sheepishly said, “I never claimed to be a Public Speaker…But that doesn’t mean I’m not grateful!” I was 20 feet away when she said it and she made me a fan for life at that comment. I came to find out later that she has some social anxiety issues, but through constant touring, she seems to have gotten over it enough to perform. My question to you kilSters, would any of you be able to do better?
Lydia Loveless sure does have a way with words. There is definitely no holding back and no bullshit! She has a way with a turn of a phrase. Her heart-felt lyrics and directness are intoxicating and refreshing. Obviously she is fearless in her message, as the meat of her songs suggest. She is a fantastic and engrossing siren. It really fascinates and heartens me that two of my top three performers at Bunbury were females. I tend to lean hard rock heavy musically; Dead Sara is an example of that. The thing with hard rock is that it generally tends to be fronted by males.
… a rebellious spirit, and an outstanding storyteller that touches on a lot of truth and honesty.
Loveless fronted her band consisting of drummer, lap steel, bass, and lead guitarist. All and all, this line-up was a spectacular supporting band, flowing with energy and timing. I noticed a special connection between her and the bass player. A glance here and a look there and of course, there should be, as he’s her husband! Another special nod should go to Lead Guitarist Todd May. May is a fantastic artist in his own right, leading a group called The Mooncussers. It was shocking and a bit disheartening to hear people around me stating that he appeared drunk. The truth was (Though he was drinking beer onstage. It was hot out there people, let the man have a beer!), that he entertained and performed brilliantly. It was not that the man was drunk; it was more that you could tell through his actions that they were those of an artist above all. He is skilled, was feeling the music, and showing that emotion through his stage presence.
Strong showings were the songs “Verlaine Shot Rimbaud”, “Head”, and the closer “Boy Crazy”. Throughout the whole set, Loveless’ voice was crisp, unique, strong, and not as country-like as you’d imagine. Her voice conforms necessarily to where she grew up. The lilt comes naturally growing up just north of the edge of the Mason-Dixon Line in east-central Ohio. Not quite North and not quite south. So the question really, “Is she really country?” I sure do hear some fearless punk attitude, brutally honest lyrics, a rebellious spirit, and an outstanding storyteller that touches on a lot of truth and honesty. And who cares if she personally does identify as a country artist? She’s really good.
“THAT is how you End a Set!!!”
It was in the finale, her song, “Boy Crazy” is where she really stood out. It was here that Loveless was most engaging, dynamic, and purely entertaining. You could see the whole band really pick it up and get into this song. Loveless was the most animated with this song, working the stage back and forth, kicking her heals, jumping around, and ultimately throwing herself to the stage on her back cranking on the guitar and kicking her legs in apparent glee while on stage! Todd was damn near kneeling and putting his body in contortions that did not seem natural. At one point he crouched by his amplifier, leaning in a way that looked as if he was going to fall, but then catching his balance, leaning his guitar toward the speaker creating an exquisite feedback, then returning to the front of the stage and gently laying his guitar face-up on the stage. As Loveless finished the song, she quickly flipped over, threw off her guitar, and placed it so that her guitar strings where on top of the strings of May’s guitar. She got up, walked to the mike, thanked the crowd, and walked away. All this occurred while the feedback from her and May’s guitar created a surreal buzz from the stage.
I turned to the crowd of what may have been around 300 watching from the concrete steps of the Amphitheater Stage. Almost anyone over the age of 40 was staring in either utter disbelief or with a look of disgust and scorn. I couldn’t hold back anymore, staring in the direction of the crowd I damn near screamed, “THAT is how you End a Set!!!” It was an outstanding display of how a band should end a set. Personally, I do not think that many people got it, which is a shame. OK kilSters, if you see the name Lydia Loveless coming to a venue near you, may I suggest you not miss this fantastic performer play, for if you do… it’s your loss.
Want more from Lydia Loveless? Of course you do! Please feel free to check them out here:
• Hunter McLeod
kilScene Special Contributor