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Lydia Loveless Was A Mess At Lincoln Hall

By Chuck Sudo in Arts & Entertainment on Dec 1, 2014 5:35PM

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Photo credit: Roman Sobus

“Goddammit, I’m pissed!” Lydia Loveless said before launching into a torrid and often uncomfortable two-hour set at Lincoln Hall last Friday night. Loveless, whose latest release Somewhere Else is an outstanding collection of personal songs that cross the lanes of cowpunk, country twang and straight rock, is a nakedly emotional performer in a live setting. Unfortunately that lack of inhibition proved to be one problem among many Friday night; her exclamation about taking the stage angry was an early highlight of a set that went from sloppy to "put it out of its misery."

Loveless and her road-tested band suffered from a combination of a terrible sound mix in the acoustically pristine Lincoln Hall, bar band clich├ęs that didn’t translate, an audience of mainly middle-age men that gave the proceedings a slightly misogynistic air as they sang lustily and off-key to a haphazard run through “Head,” and Loveless’ own self destructive tendencies as the pint-sized singer took increasingly king-sized pulls from a bar liter-sized bottle of Jim Beam onstage.

The mix was the most serious sin as the country licks of guitarist Todd May were only heard when he would feed back into the amplifier, drowned in a mix of steel guitar, bass and Loveless’ own guitar. It was a wasted opportunity for Loveless, who otherwise proved to be an engaging performer with a quick wit as she introduced “Really Want to See You” as “a song about blow, which can also be a laxative.” Loveless’ songs about love, loss, drinking and repeating, and her between-songs asides, wouldn’t be out of place spit from the mouth of a younger, more nihilistic Neko Case. By the time Loveless and her band tore into Somewhere Else’s title track, I wanted to be anywhere besides Lincoln Hall.

Opening for Loveless was The Girls, fronted by Loveless’ sister Jessica Wabbit who made as captivating a presence onstage as her sister with a Gibson Les Paul nearly as large as her strapped on her shoulder. The Girls played an infectious, intentionally sloppy punk-inspired set that may have worked the creepy old men in the audience into even more of a lather than the headliner. Show opener Baby Money had the best sound mix of the night and strong songs, but suffered from a solid case of stage fright.