SXSW: Liz Phair Re(Introudces) Herself At Perez Hilton's Party

Liz Colville

Papermag was down at SXSW last week, living in the very weird, very fun HP Mobile Park at Red River and Cesar Chavez St. Our coverage of all-things SXSW is at hpsxsw.com and hpsxsw.tumblr.com. We're also re-publishing some of it here.


Liz Phair arrived onstage at Perez Hilton's coveted "One Night in Austin" party at the W Hotel Saturday night in what looked to be an Emilio Pucci one-sleeve minidress and a radiant head of blonde hair, looking considerably younger than 43 in spite of the unflattering strobe lights all around her.

The venue really suggested nightclub, and appropriately, Phair's set was preempted by a DJ duo who interpreted club-friendly hits by Sia, Lady Gaga, MGMT and the like with a couple of decks, a laptop, and a violin, of all things. It was hard to top the sheer novelty of this act, especially when Phair's status among the audience was murky enough to prompt Perez to come onstage and explain who she was.

"I don't know how many of you know about Liz...," was part of his introduction; he then called her a "rock icon," an impressive designation, coming from the queen of celebrity gossip.

Not many people were singing along with Phair, who was joined by a guitarist, bassist and drummer, and played six songs from across her sizable discography, including oldie "Flower," middle-period "Polyester Bride" and newer song "Extraordinary." It made those who were singing along wonder who exactly people were there to see, if not this rock icon. The night did feature some solid talents later, including Sweden's Oh Land, but the draw seemed mostly to be about Perez and his bizarre but increasingly legitimate cred as a party organizer and curator of pop music.

Phair invited a probably-drunk fan up onstage to sing backup on "Flower," which requires knowing all the words to "Flower," which this guy definitely didn't. Meanwhile, thirty-something ladies raised on Phair's subversively sexual lyrics belted out all the words to this song and the rest of the set list from the pit below.

For everyone else, the performance was hopefully a reminder that music including Phair's is and always will be around, waiting to be discovered by newbies. And for Phair, who was well-rehearsed and seemed to be thoroughly enjoying herself, the event was ideally a kick in the pants: we need an artist like Liz Phair around now more than ever, even if half of us don't even know we do.

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