SAN FRANCISCO — Less than three months after packing another San Francisco venue, ’90s alt-rock icon Liz Phair darn-near sold out the Fillmore Thursday for her quick return for the Amps on the Lawn tour. The show, mostly a celebration of her seminal 1993 record Exile in Guyville, included a couple of extra highlights she had skipped in her previous Bay Area show.
Phair kicked the concert off in dramatic fashion with “Supernova,” off 1994’s Whip-Smart.
“I hope you guys are ready to get sweaty,” she said afterward, and rolled right into “Johnny Feelgood,” off 1998’s Whitechocolatespaceegg. Liz Phair introduced Whip-Smart cut “Cinco de Mayo” as being about about riding in a bus, and dedicated “Uncle Alvarez,” from the same album, to a Twitter fan.
“If any of you know her, you can tell her it happened,” Phair quipped. By the time she got to “Everything to Me,” off 2005’s Somebody’s Miracle, she still hadn’t played a cut off Exile in Guyville, which turned 25 years old this year. But she was just getting started. By Guyville‘s “Never Said” and “6’1,””fans were ready to sing along to the choruses.
A couple of songs later, she invited her guitar tech to back her on “Go West” while the rest of the band took a break during the Whip-Smart cut. When her bandmates returned, they kicked into the meaty part of the set, blasting from “Mesmerizing” to “Polyester Bride,” “Stratford-on-Guy,” and “Extraordinary.”
“I think all my fans are along a latitude,” she said, afterward, commenting on the energetic fans bouncing around the Fillmore floor.
That transitioned into perhaps Phair’s biggest cut, “Why Cant I,” which got the stadium rock treatment by her lead guitarist and drummer. Following a quick encore break, the band returned for “Fuck and Run” and “Divorce Song.”
Indie alt-rockers Speedy Ortiz, who recently released their third album, Twerp Verse, opened the evening with an entertaining and sometimes comedic set.
Bandleader Sadie Dupuis was pretty talkative, which she attributed to a review of a previous San Francisco concert that chose to ding the band for a lack of mid-song banter. So between cuts like the noisy “Buck Me Off,” “The Graduates” and “Plough,” Dupuis talked about how she used to have five cats when she was younger, but that she didn’t anymore; gave a toast to photographers when she noticed security not letting them to the front to shoot her band (“They can come up here! We love the photographers! They make us look good!”) and how her father introduced her to Liz Phair’s music by buying her Whip-Smart at a Virgin Megastore.
At her most dramatic, Dupuis would turn to an off-kilter vibrato that communicated angst and sometimes anger almost as well as the socially conscious lyrics.
Speedy Ortiz was also fundraising to support the availability of a guide book for music venues to prevent harassment at shows, and Dupuis spoke a couple of times about the band’s pet cause.