It was a long, harsh winter in Wisconsin, but sitting in the audience of the Indigo Girls’ show last night – basking in their genuine Georgia warmth – was good medicine for those of us still thawing out emotionally.
It has been almost exactly a year since the Indigos – who are Amy Ray and Emily Saliers – visited Milwaukee. Last year, they headlined at Pride Fest and this year, they performed on the eve of Pride at The Pabst Theater.
I first learned of their fondness for Milwaukee last year during an interview with Ray. When I asked her what, if anything, she liked about our town, I was expecting the usual "the people are nice" or "the lake is beautiful" but instead, she gave locally-flavored details. "Mrs. Fun and Beans & Barley!"
A lot has happened in the past year since their last visit, particularly for Ray who welcomed a daughter, Ozalline, into the world with her partner of 12 years.
Hence, when the band – which included a violin player, drummer and bassist – opened with "Ozalline" it was so sweet and apt I found my hands reaching for my phone to text my son.
And that’s how it rolled, and rocked, for the next two hours – as a heart-melting serenade of foot-stomping soul and sincerity.
Ray and Saliers took turns at the mic, dishing out a few fan favorites like "Watershed," "Get Out The Map," "Shame On You," "Galileo" and an encore jam with opener Hannah Thomas of "Closer To Fine."
But they also performed from all of the food groups of their career. "Fill It Up Again," "Dairy Queen," "John," "What Are You Like," "Sugar Tongue," "Yield" and "Three County Highway" also made the set list.
One of the most poignant moments of the concert was when they performed "The Power Of Two." Anyone who knows the history of Ray and Saliers' relationship can only admire it. They are both lesbians and activists who have been in a 30-year creative relationship, but never partners beyond music. The love they have for each other, as friends and musicians, is so evident it seeps through every song. And when combined with words such as "The Power Of Two," the song elevates to an anthem, especially during a weekend that celebrates love in all of its forms.
It was a long winter and I listened, mostly, to the sad and the angry – Nathaniel Rateliff, the Geto Boys. There was another school shooting yesterday – I was reading about it on my phone on the way to the concert – and then there was the Indigo Girls. I am still listening to them today.
There are really only two words left for me to say, and they are words that came from the Indigo Girls’ mouths many times last night.
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