Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill Still Easy To Swallow

By Samantha Abernethy in Arts & Entertainment on Oct 15, 2012 7:30PM

Isn't it ironic? I have no idea because that song forever muddled our nation's understanding of the word.

Alanis Morissette performed a set to please fans past and present Saturday at the Riviera Theatre, successfully combining tunes from her recent release havoc and bright lights with those fan favorites from the pivotal 1995 album Jagged Little Pill into one seamless show.

More than half of the crowd consisted of 20-something females. We two 20-something Chicagoistas were among them, so we know why. For both of us, Jagged Little Pill was one of the first CDs we owned. Personally, the third copy I purchased even started skipping on my last road trip, so excuse me while I turn into an emotional fangirl for a few paragraphs.

Jagged Little Pill was important to us because it sounded like how we felt. She had the anger without the adult alienation of the riot grrls and without resorting to Sarah McLachlan sappiness. She had great, quirky music videos. Which Alanis did you identify with in the "Ironic" video? Did you do cartwheels with her in "You Learn"? Then she released the darkly romantic "Uninvited" for the City of Angels soundtrack, and we thought we'd be friends forever.

But then when Alanis returned with the decidedly tame tune "Thank U" from Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie, we felt betrayed. It was like our best single friend went and got a boyfriend and stopped coming over to watch TRL after school. The music was still good, it still spoke to us teen girls in a way, and she was still one of our best friends, but our relationship was just never the same again. We followed her through 2002's Under Rug Swept and 2004's So-Called Chaos, and they're both solid albums, but we just weren't on the same page.

In 2005, Alanis marked the 10th anniversary of Jagged Little Pill by releasing an acoustic recording of the album. I was skeptical, but like every other Alanis album, I bought it the day it was released. I went for a drive with fellow Alanis fans through Pennsylvania mountains, and that's when it clicked. We weren't really angry anymore either. Taking the words we all knew and calming them down actually worked for us. We revisited her other material and realized sometimes friends grow apart, but sometimes they grow back together again.

Let's fast-forward to 2012 at the Riviera Theatre. Alanis started the set with "Woman Down," the opening track on her latest album. Its refrain of "Who do you take me for?" set us up perfectly for the throwback to 1995 and "All I Really Want," the opening track on Jagged Little Pill featuring the eternal question, "Why are you so petrified of silence? Here can you handle this?" Every tune from Pill was an instant singalong, and it wasn't just the singles, which became obvious when she pulled out the lesser known "Mary Jane." That was the perfect tune for a teen girl in the 1990s to listen to at full volume while sobbing into a pillow.

The setlist pulled almost exclusively from those two albums, though. By my calculations, just five of the 20 songs she performed were not.

As soon as the crowd became restless during the new material, Alanis bust out another oldie to bring them back in with a singalong. We weren't sure if this meant the crowd was unimpressed with it. After she played "You Oughta Know" toward the end of the set, we assumed much of the crowd would leave, having heard that one song they all knew. We checked the front door, but few people went through. It seems instead of simply satisfying the crowd, those old favorites reinvigorated the crowd to stick around for more new material.

And it's a good thing the crowd stayed. Do you remember the first time you left your Jagged Little Pill CD spinning through the hidden remix of "You Oughta Know," through the silence, then you found the hidden song? We relived that feeling when Alanis sat down and broke out the acapella tearjerker, also known as "Your House," to finish the encore.

When Alanis came out for a second encore and closed out with the song that betrayed us, "Thank U," we weren't even mad.

Isn't it ironic? Seriously, I still don't know.