Lilith Fair Still Has the Magic

I love the Lilith Fair—the women’s music festival co-founded by Sarah McLachlan that ran for three consecutive summers beginning in 1997. It was a summer ritual I looked forward to. I attended all three of them at Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View, CA. Ten years ago, the 22,000-seat venue was packed with women and the feminine energy was as hot as the afternoon sun on the lawn seating area.

When I heard that Lilith Fair was making a comeback this summer, I called my GaGa buddy, Barb, and we both got lawn seats. This year’s tour still carries the message of female empowerment and community along with a loving layer of nostalgia. Shoreline was the sixth stop out of 23 dates around the country and featured McLachlan, Heart, the Bangles, and the hot new pop vocalist, Colbie Caillat.

Despite the low turn out, Lilith still had the magic that I remembered but on a more intimate level. For me it’s as much a social event as a concert. Instant friendships are made in the lines to get in which lasted over 90 minutes. People reminisce about who they saw ten years ago and speculate about this year’s line up. Then there’s the partying on the lawn as people stake out their spots and bring out their picnics.

Barb and I always opt for the lawn seats—not just because they’re cheaper—but because you can get up and dance. The weather was spectacular for our concert. All the people around us were splayed out on blankets, soaking up the afternoon sun. I noticed a group of women in front of us and one looked familiar. She was another GaGa who had just joined the GaGa Sisterhood a few months earlier! Lilith attracts all ages, from old hippies to young college coeds. When I was dancing to the Bangles, a young woman came down beside me and asked if she could dance with me!

When Caillat took the main stage, I walked down to stand at the railing behind the reserved seats and stood beside a young woman. She was singing along in such a beautiful voice she could easily have done back up for the performer. The Bangles had everyone up on their feet when they sang “Manic Monday” and “Walk Like an Egyptian.” But it was Heart—the sister act of vocalist Ann and guitarist Nancy Wilson—who really rocked the house with “Crazy on You.”

Sarah McLachlan closed the show and totally engaged the crowd with her personal, intimate style of chatting and singing. She brought the rest of the cast back for an encore of another classic rock cover, “Because the Night” by Patti Smith and Bruce Springsteen.

When Barb and I finally packed up our gear, we’d been rocking for ten hours. I left still feeling the glow of that magical day and the warmth of wonderful energy that women can create through music and community.