With Special Guest BITCH
- 23 August Tuesday 8:00 PM
On their 16th studio album, Indigo Girls tell their origin story. Look Long is a stirring and eclectic collection of songs that finds the duo of Amy Ray and Emily Saliers reunited with their strongest backing band to date as they chronicle their personal upbringings with more specificity and focus than they have on any previous song-cycle. “We’re fallible creatures shaped by the physics of life,” says Saliers. “We’re shaped by our past; what makes us who we are? And why?”
Produced by John Reynolds (Sinéad O’Connor, Damien Dempsey) and recorded in the countryside outside Bath, England at Peter Gabriel’s Real World Studios, these eleven songs have a tender, revealing motion to them, as if they’re feeding into a Super 8 film projector, illuminating a darkened living room. “When We Were Writers” recounts the flying sparks and passion Saliers felt as a young college student when the duo first started performing together. “Shit Kickin’” is a nuanced love letter to Ray’s Southern heritage. “I’m a little bit left of the ‘salt of the earth’ / That’s alright, I’ll prove my worth,” she sings.
As writers, Saliers and Ray tackle the mechanisms of perspective. Look Long considers the tremendous potential of ordinary life and suggests the possibility that an honest survey of one’s past and present, unburdened by judgement, can give shape to something new—the promise of a way forward. With the energy of an expanding, loyal audience beneath their feet, a weather eye toward refinement, and an openness to redefinition, Indigo Girls exemplify that promise once again.
“We joke about being old, but what is old when it comes to music? We’re still a bar band at heart,” says Saliers. “We are so inspired by younger artists and while our lyrics and writing approach may change, our passion for music feels the same as it did when we were 25-years-old.”
Released in 1989, Indigo Girls eponymous major label debut sold over two million units under the power of singles “Closer to Fine” and “Kid Fears” and turned Indigo Girls into one of the most successful folk duos in history. Over a thirty-five-year career that began in clubs around their native Atlanta, Georgia, the Grammy-winning duo has recorded sixteen studio albums (seven gold, four platinum, one double platinum), sold over 15 million records, and built a dedicated, enduring following.
Committed and uncompromising activists, Saliers and Ray work on issues like immigration reform (El Refugio), LGBTQ rights, education (Imagination Library), death penalty reform, and sustainability in Native communities. They are co-founders of Honor the Earth, a non-profit dedicated to Indigenous environmental justice and green energy solutions. They have granted over three million dollars to Native led grassroots groups and campaigns fighting against bad energy projects but also funding sustainable ones.
Musical collaborations with a new generation of devoted peers like Brandi Carlile, Justin Vernon (Bon Iver), Sierra Hull, and Matt Nathanson continue to bring newcomers to Indigo Girls’ audience. Says Vernon about growing up with Indigo Girls’ music, “I adored them more and more—the more they had strength in the face of their adversity…They’re my favorite group ever.”
Amidst our often-terrifying present, Look Long is a musical balm for those of us in search of a daily refuge, an hour or two when we can engage with something that brings us joy, perspective, or maybe just calm.
“People feel lost in these political times” explains Saliers. "Let’s lament our limitations, but let’s also look beyond what’s right in front of us, take the long view of things, and strive to do better. As time has gone on, our audience has become more expansive and diverse which gives me a great sense of joy.” Jubilant audience singalongs that often overpower the band itself are a trademark of Indigo Girls concerts. With the highly anticipated return of live music, soon the night sky over amphitheaters all across the country will once again fill with those collective voices. The phenomenon epitomizes the sense of belonging and celebration that Indigo Girls’ music radiates. As one bar band once put it, “We go to the doctor, we go to the mountains…we go to the Bible, we go through the work out.” For millions, they go to Indigo Girls. On Look Long they’ll find a creative partnership certain of its bearings, forging a way forward.
Bitch makes witchy poet pop. She does it with violins and synthesizers, and the songs she writes are spectral, heartbreaking, political, and beautiful. The longstanding queer music icon has been performing for over 20 years. She grew up with a tap dancing studio in the basement of her childhood home, and began playing the violin, her first love, as a young child. Bitch first achieved notoriety as one half of the queer folk duo Bitch and Animal. The band went on to tour with Ani DiFranco, whom they caught the ears of while playing a gig at a pizza shop in Provincetown on Cape Cod. In the mid 2000s, Bitch went solo, and shared stages with the Indigo Girls, acted in the film Shortbus, co-wrote a song with Margaret Cho, produced two albums of her elder folk hero Ferron, and licensed her music to The L Word. Eight years ago, she began to weave together Bitchcraft, her latest record.
Bitchcraft was born in a move from New York City, where Bitch had lived for 15 years, to a log cabin in the woods. There was all the time in the world to make art, and it was there, in the cabin, that Bitch began to write some of the songs that would appear on Bitchcraft. “It gave me space to think about the biggest version of myself that I could be,” she says of those early days in the cabin. The songs she wrote were a departure from anything she’d ever written before, and she began to craft huge pop tracks with the help of her trusty violin. Then, she moved to LA and Bitchcraft began to shapeshift again.
In the years that followed, Bitch assembled a coven to complete it. She called on Anne Preven (Beyonce, Madonna, Demi Lovato) and God-des who helped her crystalize her vision in terms of writing and production. She called on Roma Baran (Laurie Anderson) to produce the violins on “Polar Bear.” She called on Melissa York (Team Dresch, The Butchies) and Faith Soloway (Transparent) to co-write a couple of the songs. The resulting record is one that is full of glorious pop tracks that go in unexpected directions. Just take opener “You’re the Man,” as one such offering. Here, a strident synthesizer crashes into a drum machine, and Bitch sings about owning your own power. The song started as a poem, one that Bitch first wrote as part of a New Year’s ritual withFerron where she wrote about things she wanted to let go of and ripped them from her notebook and threw them into the fire. Meanwhile, on “Hello Meadow,” electric violins coalesce with birdlike synths, and Bitch recounts industrial capitalist hell, and the attempts to find beauty outside of it. It’s a song about mother nature as well as the onslaught of capitalism and its obsession with destroying the natural world. And on “Easy Target,” written during the Bret Kavanaugh trials, she explores what it means to find your sense of self worth when people try to bring you down.
Bitchcraft is like Joni Mitchell set to a click track, it’s queer Cyndi Lauper. It’s neon pink, in your face, ready to hex you with its brilliance. It’s an unbelievably fun record that is extremely capable of breaking your heart a little bit. It also makes you think: about the state of the world, about evil politicians, about what it means to exist as a woman, and how to find joy along the way.