July 5, 1997
July 5, 2022 10:10 AM   Subscribe

Today marks the 25th anniversary of the Lilith Fair (NPR, today) touring music festival (Jessica Hopper oral history for Vanity Fair, 2019, 20th-anniversary appreciation, Rolling Stone, 2017).

Over three years, main stage performers included Fiona Apple, India.Arie, Erykah Badu,Sandra Bernhard, Tracy Bonham, Meredith Brooks, The Cardigans, Mary Chapin Carpenter,Tracy Chapman, The Chicks, Paula Cole, Shawn Colvin, Cowboy Junkies, Deborah Cox, Sheryl Crow, Angie Delight, Des'ree, Disappear Fear, Emmylou Harris, Indigo Girls, Jewel, Diana Krall, Chantal Kreviazuk, Lisa Loeb, Luscious Jackson, Martina McBride, Sarah McLachlan, Natalie Merchant, Monica, Mya, Meshell Ndegeocello, Sinead O'Connor, Joan Osborne, Liz Phair, The Pretenders, Queen Latifah, Bonnie Raitt, Joanelle Romero, and Suzanne Vega.

Performers on the second and third stages included (an incomplete list):

Christina Aguilera, Antigone Rising, Pat Benatar, Neko Case, Neneh Cherry, Cibo Matto, Holly Cole, Kacy Crowley, N'Dea Davenport, Dido, Missy Elliott, Melissa Ferrick, Nelly Furtado, Nina Gordon, Patty Griffin, Juliana Hatfield, Kristin Hersh, The Innocence Mission, Angelique Kidjo, Mary Lou Lord, Aimee Mann, Idina Menzel, Mono, Morcheeba, The Murmurs, Beth Orton, Madeleine Peyroux, Rachael Sage, Sixpence None the Richer, Syd Straw, Wild Strawberries, Susan Tedeschi, Tegan and Sara, Dar Williams, Lucinda Williams, Victoria Williams, and Cassandra Wilson.

A 2010 revival tour (never finished) added (incomplete list)

The Bangles, Sara Bareilles, Brandi Carlile, Cat Power, Kelly Clarkson, The Go-Go's, Gossip, Heart, Norah Jones, Kitten, Miranda Lambert, Janelle Monáe, Carly Simon, The Weepies, and Winterbloom.
posted by box (19 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
I saw Lilith Fair in the Chicago area (warning: shows videos from actual current events) that summer. I'm certain I've talked about it before, but I was 15 and my dad took me, and it's one of those memories that's just so special because while my dad and I maybe didn't connect 100% all of the time, it's so obvious that he was working very hard to see me.
posted by obfuscation at 10:17 AM on July 5 [15 favorites]

I went twice. Didn't get to see Sinead O'Connor or Fiona Apple, though.
posted by Bee'sWing at 10:23 AM on July 5

Despite liking so many of these artists, I had such internalized misogyny back then and refused to attend. Talk about missing out on something important from my formative youth. 20 year old me was very much wanted to be a Cool Girl, and as a result, I joined in using Lilith Fair as shorthand for overly earnest insufferable feminists.

Christ, what an idiot I was.
posted by Kitteh at 10:27 AM on July 5 [18 favorites]

Saw the first in Vancouver, the third in Ottawa. Both were incredible. I fell in love with Diana Krall as a result. The Wild Strawberries were a great show too. Though I missed too many, many were some of the most memorable performances I've ever seen.
posted by bonehead at 10:45 AM on July 5 [1 favorite]

Christ, what an idiot I was.

that we should all reach this revelation, and not nearly enough of us do.. "what an idiot I is" my words to live by

edit to add appreciation, great appreciation, for the work box did in posting these videos
posted by elkevelvet at 11:16 AM on July 5 [3 favorites]

I went to either the second or third Lilith Faire in Houston. My then girlfriend, now wife lived in Dallas, so I went solo.
I remember sitting watching a jazz act on one of the smaller stages, and Sarah McLachlan joined them. It looked like the audience was just sucked towards the stage.
I also remember Natalie Merchant chasing a grasshopper that jumped on stage.
My only annoyance was that all of the merchandise had naked women on them, which I didn't feel comfortable wearing.
posted by Spike Glee at 11:16 AM on July 5 [1 favorite]

Saw them in Phoenix with Indigo Girls. Me and 7 other queer or queer friendly men, camped out in a sea of women. We were playing cards sitting on our blanket and simply BAKING in the desert sun. I remember Eryakah Badu capturing my attention entirely unexpectedly, and Meschell Mdegeocello completely blowing me away and there were so many performances that were entirely wonderful that I don't have firm memories of... By the time Sarah took the stage I was exhausted and sunburned and felt like I had been a part of something important.
posted by hippybear at 11:17 AM on July 5 [4 favorites]

That oral history is such a beautiful thing to read. Thanks for posting this.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 12:10 PM on July 5

“No, we’re really marketing this water more toward a male demographic.” I just remember sitting there going, It’s fucking water.
posted by ovvl at 1:15 PM on July 5 [1 favorite]

(If you're a Spotify person, Jessica Hopper, Sasha Geffen, and Jenn Pelly have a playlist (227 songs) to go along with their oral history.)
posted by box at 1:37 PM on July 5 [1 favorite]

Cath Runnals, production manager, Lilith Fair:
Lollapalooza would do 15, 18 shows, and that was their summer. Lilith was planning 40.


Great post! Thanks for rounding up all of those videos.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 4:34 PM on July 5

I saw The Lilith Fair in Park City, way back, my friend took me and my daughters!
posted by Oyéah at 6:47 PM on July 5 [1 favorite]

I remember seeing this (maybe second or third tour) outside Pittsburgh and a lightning storm rolled in. The concert continued and we stood in the drenching rain screaming back at the thunder and reveling below the lightning. It was incredible.
posted by meinvt at 9:11 PM on July 5 [1 favorite]

I was a few years too young to attend, but read about it in Seventeen Magazine and wanted so badly to go.
posted by third word on a random page at 5:10 AM on July 6

Went to the Atlanta show that summer. Was a huge Sarah McLachlan fan (along with a bunch of the other artists on the card). Fun show.
posted by snwod at 7:19 AM on July 6

Back in the mid 2000s, I can't remember if it was just one blogger or if I saw this opinion multiple places, but there was an idea that there was the "real", un-commercial feminism of Bikini Kill and riot grrrl, and then the "commercialized, mainstream" "fake" feminism of Lilith Fair, and... no. I went to Lilith Fair twice, it was awesome, I needed it as a young woman, and I wasn't able to get out and drive myself to the places where riot grrrl meetings or concerts were happening. It's all needed. It's all good. We need all of it.

Anyway, it was a good time. Fiona Apple referred to her band as "the Spice Boys" and gave each of them "Spice" names; the one I remember is "Deep Spice Nine". Missy Elliot's back-up dancers were dressed as skeletons. I remember wondering how hot and sweaty they must be in their jumpsuits. Good times, good times.
posted by pelvicsorcery at 12:17 PM on July 6 [2 favorites]

Thanks so much for posting this. I had some good times at Lilith Fair as a wee young dyke and this brought back some wonderful memories of when life was new and exciting and full of possibilities, before illness and poverty.

It's nice to listen to some of this and close my eyes and dream about good old times.
posted by liminal_shadows at 9:00 PM on July 10

You made my world just a bit brighter for a while. Thank you.
posted by liminal_shadows at 9:01 PM on July 10

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