Indigo Girls Tiny Desk concert
February 18, 2023 6:15 PM   Subscribe

The Indigo Girls, almost preternaturally suited to the medium, perform a Tiny Desk Concert.

They still rock, and I cried.
posted by obfuscation (31 comments total) 28 users marked this as a favorite
Ditto, Indigo Girls tend to help produce tears, there is a sort of agonizing beauty in their music that I just love. Emily's melodic voice paired with Amy's rougher folk/punk voice on top of the acoustic guitars and great lyrics. This was perfect.
posted by MrBobaFett at 6:19 PM on February 18 [4 favorites]

This did lead me down a thankfully brief rabbit hold of trying to find a video of them performing Kid Fears with Michael Stipe. I found one, and it is quite good.
posted by obfuscation at 6:23 PM on February 18 [12 favorites]

Hey, nice to hear that they sound even better now than when they were ubiquitous. I saw them open for REM in Worcester around April 1989, and nobody had ever heard them before, and they didn't get much response from the still-kinda-non-mainstream alterna-crowd that was filtering in—and the two of them with just their guitars seemed to be too small for the arena-rock stage. But they paved the way for a bunch of other singer-songwriters to come—and they still sounded better than anyone that followed in their trail...

And then I dated someone in 1991-92 who had their 2nd and 3rd CDs on repeat, and I couldn't listen to them again until now... and hey, they still sound great now that I've had three decades to cleanse my palate. And I know they sounded good then, but now they have that tone in their voice that indicates the miles they've travelled. Better with age. Thanks for posting this.
posted by not_on_display at 7:32 PM on February 18 [4 favorites]

I'm overwhelmed a little with emotion just seeing these folks who had so much to do with how I approach both music and feelings still being so robust and gracious through so many decades. Thank you for this.
posted by abulafa at 7:36 PM on February 18 [4 favorites]

After having a number of “only a mother could love” experiences with 2020s recordings of beloved musicians from my 1990s youth, it was wonderful to load this up and be blown away by how incredible they still are.

I didn’t see them way back when, but I did see them at 1997 Lilith Fair, something I will always treasure. It’s lovely to know that someone seeing them today could have just as transcendent an experience.
posted by obfuscation at 7:50 PM on February 18 [2 favorites]

I saw them open for REM in Worcester around April 1989

I was at that show too!
posted by Daily Alice at 7:53 PM on February 18 [8 favorites]

Emily isn't in the best of voice in this performance, which I attribute to it being held much earlier in the day than they normally work. But I do adore the Look Long album, their most recent, and it was a shame it came out in like February of 2020. I missed this past tour of theirs, but they did one of those pay per view online concerts which I bought and even mr hippybear thought it was a really great presentation of them.

They just had a documentary premiere at Sundance, but I didn't read that it had found any distribution. I can only hope it will find its way into my life. They've been my companions since, like, 1987, so I'm always eager for more from them.
posted by hippybear at 7:54 PM on February 18 [8 favorites]

I did not know about the Look Long album and wow am I ever buying it.
posted by humbug at 8:20 PM on February 18 [1 favorite]

Back in the mid '90s, "Kid Fears" was very not my favorite song of theirs, for no reason I can put my finger on, but this performance of it here has completely opened my eyes to how good it really is. Maybe it's got something to do with me being older, too, but it's really more beautiful than I realized.
posted by Mister Moofoo at 9:59 PM on February 18 [3 favorites]

I think given the whole "they're folky lesbians!!!!" thing, people tended to ignore what great songwriters they are. Their songs are gorgeous! Rites of Passage and Swamp Ophelia were such pivotal albums for me (that were traded on various tapes because that's what we did).

I am bi so that's clearly different (and I get that!) but I had so many friends who were lesbians that I always felt more a part of that scene. Mind you, I'm not trying to co-opt anyone's identity but my lesbian friends taught me more about my sexual identity than anyone else did. Going to see the Indigo Girls with those friends was a great experience. It was one of the first times I felt a part of something, even if it wasn't completely mine.

I watched this and I cried.
posted by edencosmic at 10:35 PM on February 18 [7 favorites]

A few days ago I was reading a lovely essay by Elisabeth Sandifer called How to Be an Egg in the Age of Lilith Fair and one of the sections is about the Indigo Girls’ song Fugitive and I thought this paragraph was especially perceptive:
This narrow band of music—female singer-songwriter stuff of the 1990s—can seem stifling in many ways. Its horizons are brutally apparent time and time again. And sure, in many ways it was. That’s how subgenres work. But the flipside of this, just as important, is that there are accomplishments that can only be made by going deep into a style. Something like “Fugitive” was never going to arise except as the end of a long chain of influences, from someone whose work wasn’t rooted primarily in populist acceptance but in working the margins of form and genre. This music and era has its facets of cringe, yes, but what doesn’t? 90s alternative has “Everybody Hurts” and “Bullet With Butterfly Wings.” But for all that this looks painfully dated, the fact remains that there’s an infinite depth here, and what you’ll lose yourself in was always more than just the solipsism of your own dysphoria.
posted by Kattullus at 3:29 AM on February 19 [9 favorites]

Indigo Girls played the coffee house at my very small midwestern conservatory/liberal arts university in early May 1987. The audience couldn’t have been more than a hundred. They were looking to expand their profile into that part of the country and Emily Salier’s sister was the RA in one of the dorms. This would have been right around the time they released their first EP on an indy label and a few years before their breakthrough major label album. As I recall it was a really great show my friends and I raved about afterwards.
posted by slkinsey at 5:10 AM on February 19 [7 favorites]

I love their music so much! And while time is one thing that all of us have to deal with, the years and miles have only enhanced both of their voices; teasing out subtle threads of joy, sorrow, pain, triumph, and just life that add to the richness of each soaring harmony.
posted by xedrik at 7:38 AM on February 19 [1 favorite]

Saw them live, probably 1990 at a big outdoor concert place outside Chicago. I wasn't a huge fan as I only knew them from a couple radio songs. But they surpassed my expectations and put on a great show—even if the venue was kinda way too big for them.
posted by SoberHighland at 7:48 AM on February 19 [1 favorite]

If you’re in the mood for some more Indigo Girls content:
posted by beastelyse at 9:45 AM on February 19 [1 favorite]

beastelyse's link wasn't clickable for me, so I'm reposting it here for others. Lovely article!
For some of us, especially those of us who've spent a lifetime in queer worlds, our longest relationships aren't always with our lovers or our spouses. They're with our communities, with our best friends, often geographically scattered, receding in and out of our lives through many twists, turns and transformations of self and the world.
posted by xedrik at 10:28 AM on February 19 [3 favorites]

Fan since 1989. My BFF from summer camp and I heard "Closer to Fine" on the same day that spring and in our customary after-school phone confab predicted correctly they were going to be *gigantic* at our weirdo hippie utopian Episcopalian summer camp where only slightly aside from the God thing, the counselors' mission seemed to be to get us to develop decent musical taste.
posted by jocelmeow at 10:45 AM on February 19 [3 favorites]

From Amy in that article: "As soon as I felt the way our voices sounded together, I was inconsolable, except by the music we would make."

So lovely, and this comes through so clearly in their music.
posted by obfuscation at 10:49 AM on February 19 [4 favorites]

Thanks for posting this. The Amy Ray Band is playing near me tonight, and I was undecided whether to go, but this seals the deal.
posted by verstegan at 11:16 AM on February 19

They usually play a smaller show aimed at locals here in Atlanta around New Years each year. We got to go in 2018, and it was something like this, just the three of them having fun together with people who love them.

I am decade younger than a lot of folks in this thread, so by the time I could go to shows, they were playing Lilith Fair and arenas. Getting to see a show like what they must have been like in the 80s in their hometown with the people who love them was absolutely the best concert I've ever been to.
posted by hydropsyche at 11:39 AM on February 19 [3 favorites]

Getting to see a show like what they must have been like in the 80s in their hometown with the people who love them was absolutely the best concert I've ever been to.

I saw them at Paolo Solari in Santa Fe on a tour they were doing where they were writing material for their Shaming Of The Sun album. (The only album of theirs they have self-produced, and it's easily the most sonically adventurous of all their efforts.) Anyway, it is a tiny venue, it's outdoors, it's just the two of them, they're doing snippets of songs they're working on... and it's a damp evening, so the crowd is a bit more sparse than it might otherwise be and everyone is sort of huddled into themselves or their groups... it was a really amazing evening.

One of my favorite moments was there was some thunder that rolled across the venue as Emily was making a comment about them learning new instruments, and Amy is putting on a banjo and says "Yeah, most of them made of metal" in response to the thunder.

I've seen them a lot, and some shows are more magical than others. I really need to make a point to see them on the next tour.
posted by hippybear at 12:24 PM on February 19 [3 favorites]

I saw Emily, incognito, try new material in some bar on the square in Carrollton in I guess it was 1990. Even though “Closer To Fine” spoke to me on a molecular level, I was too much of a square to realize why until many years later. “Least Complicated” has been in my act for a long time. Point being, I'm glad people all around the world got to experience the affirmation of Indigo Girls music and not just Georgians of a certain age.
posted by ob1quixote at 12:26 PM on February 19 [6 favorites]

There's something very tender about this. It's so hard to choose the path of supporting yourself as a working artist.

Good on Emily for her Protect Trans Kids t shirt. Many in the fan base may benefit from this role modeling.
posted by latkes at 1:42 PM on February 19 [4 favorites]

The Indigo Girls do great covers too. Their version of Dire Straits’ Romeo & Juliet is superior and their cover of All Along The Watchtower is straight fire.
posted by Eikonaut at 2:43 PM on February 19 [8 favorites]

Was just filling out a 25th college reunion questionnaire earlier today, and one question stumped me: what music from college are you still listening to frequently today?

And tonight, the moment I heard their voices, bam, there I am, in a dorm in a small town in western Mass again.
posted by of strange foe at 6:53 PM on February 19 [4 favorites]

I think given the whole "they're folky lesbians!!!!" thing, people tended to ignore what great songwriters they are.
The thing about being a writer of a successful folk tune (in fact, an era-defining one) like Closer To Fine - is that it has been covered and sung by umpteen people: practised in bedrooms and performed around camp fires and in small venues as much as by established artists. The song itself only got to the lower reaches of the charts - and the groups Grammy nomination for their eponymous album lost out Milli Vanilli - but I don't think there is much cooler than having a song that becomes a folk standard.

(Youtube's algorithm for this TinyDesk concert suggested that if I liked this I would also like Regina Spektor's - which is good enough for me, to repeat here)
posted by rongorongo at 2:30 AM on February 20 [2 favorites]

Wow, thank you for this!
posted by djeo at 8:41 AM on February 20 [1 favorite]

What a coincidence, I just watched this the other day. They look so normal.
posted by subdee at 7:42 PM on February 20

I love how music from your youth just sweeps you up and puts you right into your memories.

I'm still an Emily girl, but I have much more appreciation for Amy now. Love them both.
posted by widdershins at 11:51 AM on February 23 [2 favorites]

Mr hippybear always wants to be Emily-side when we see them live, but all his favorite songs are by Amy. He is a land of contrasts.

Also, as far as later year songs go, I have to say that Fleet Of Hope completely kicks ass.
posted by hippybear at 7:42 AM on February 25 [2 favorites]

« Older He's Down With This Until He's Across   |   Showstoppers Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments