As part of the LA Phil’s Sound/Stage series commemorating Gen X artists, legendary feminist singer/songwriter Ani DiFranco takes the stage of the famed Hollywood Bowl for a lucid performance as she spills her soul and captivates a digital audience — her performance now available to stream.
An emblem for feminism, queer identity and anti-establishment rhetoric, DiFranco’s work spans a multitude of themes and has become a beacon for anyone wishing to trail off the beaten path of conventional society.
Speaking with hosts Karen Tongson and Wynter Mitchell-Rohrbaugh, DiFranco explains some of her experience as a musician, as an individual in the Gen X timeframe and touches on the progression of things such as capitalism, the internet and corporate power. DiFranco also goes in depth on the integral mission that drives her music and her life in general; the internal ember that sparked a new wave of feminist music and anti-establishment sentiments still burns deep and has culminated into a new and reinvigorated fire.
”You know, I think people have thought about my indie girl mission, and it was about not having to answer to the man” she notes in part of her interview. “And I guess in some ways it was. Bur for me, it was always more about, I don’t wanna propel corporate systems that corporate systems that co-opt culture that takes something that’s organic and alive and comes out of people in a community and then they just come and they eat it. And they just suck the life out of it.”
Also reflecting on her time performing and making music in the 90s, DiFranco notes on the progression of technology and its influence on society, noting that something like the television and tv programming pales in comparison to the exponential influence of the internet, social media and other new forms of communication and entertainment.
Distilling a sense of freedom, fluidity and expertise — DiFranco’s Sounds / Stage performance itself was a lively, organic merging of some of her most pivotal songs throughout her career, including songs such as ”If He Tries Anything,” “Shameless” and newer single off her 2021 album of the same title, “Revolutionary Love” — the latter inspired by DiFranco’s friendship with civil rights activist, writer and lawyer Valerie Kaur. Going through her music through the generations, these songs stand the testament of time and pull at the fabrics of society not in an attempt to see it unravel, but so that it can become tight-knit, strong and renewed.
In addition to having written hundreds of songs and played thousands of shows, DiFranco is also the founder of Righteous Babe Records and in the purest, do-it-yourself sense, has spent generations forging a strong structure to house curious minds and resilient hearts. Watch her Sound / Stage performance now via the LA Phil.
LA Phil’s Gen X series begins April 22 and continues through May 14. A multidisciplinary, multi-genre exploration of Generation X, the festival series will contain concerts curated by Thomas Adès and Liz Phair, and special events by Waiting to X-hale podcasters Karen Tongson and Wynter Mitchell-Rohrbaugh and combines orchestral concerts, popular presentations, and humanities events in a decidedly LA Phil-esque way. For more information on tickets, venues and concert dates, make sure to visit LA Phil’s website page detailing the festival series.
Words: Patti Sanchez