Hulu’s streaming the Austin City Limits festival this weekend, and I’m watching the Decemberists show right now. I’m struck by something that I never really seen with them, as much as I’ve always loved their live show. You might argue that the Decemberists are not the most feminist band, with a male frontman and a lot of lyrics about rape, abuse of women, killing children, etc. I’d disagree, given the narrative style, but the thing I wanted to spotlight in this post is the female vocalists currently touring with the band, and their live performance.
What I love about this particular show, featuring songs from the Hazards of Love concept album, is the way the female vocalists are the stars of the show in a lot of ways, and not just as pretty things to look at/listen to. Becky Stark and Shara Worden have these great characters on the album, and stunning vocal performances. In the show, they both dance like madwomen, and they just inspire something in me that gets stifled easily by everyday life in this world. Becky comes out in this flowing white dress (covering her whole body, I’ll note) and her dancing is so obviously for her that you can help but smile. It’s how any little girl dances before she learns that everyone is watching. Shara, by contrast, is decked out in black and silver, and has this amazing strong woman character, pounding the stage with her feet and slaying the audience with her voice. She dances and sings like the woman I want to be – strong, confident, fuck your bullshit. I don’t see enough of this in rock shows, and so I applaud the Decemberists for bringing these fantastic women on and spotlighting something that is feminine and real.
(Incidentally, I also highly recommend Shara’s show with her band, My Brightest Diamond. She’s just all-around kick-ass.)