Monday, January 24, 2011

Fair Phair

By Meredith Deliso

Liz Phair didn’t always like performing. She suffered from stage fright from the start, and would roll her eyes at bandmates who loved the live experience. But now, she’s one of the junkies.

“I’ve turned a corner about my live show,” said Phair from Los Angeles before she kicked off an East Coast tour that brings her to the Music Hall of Williamsburg this Wednesday. “I used to get so stressed out before going out on tour. Now, I’m really enjoying it.”

The singer can’t really point to what changed, though part of it may that after being on the scene for as long as she has, she’s a chameleon who’s finally comfortable in her own skin.

The indie rock goddess exploded onto the music scene with her 1993 debut, “Exile from Guyville,” a song-by-song refutation of the Rolling Stones’ “Exile on Main Street.”

Since that groundbreaking album — an anthem of audaciousness for all young, independent women — Phair’s played with people’s expectations, even if that’s meant losing the edge of her twentysomething rebellion. There was 1998’s “Whitechocolatespaceegg,” which revolved around themes of motherhood and family, rather than shocking songs about sex and relationships; the commercial, glossy pop of her 2003 self-titled album; and her latest, the off-beat “Funstyle,” which finds the singer on one song rapping (yes, rapping).

That experimentation may have alienated fans of “Guyville”-era Phair, but when she plays live, the musician’s learned to give the people what they want.

“I have enough records under my belt so that I can really play songs that people want to hear,” said Phair. “It’s fun.”     

Make that funstyle.

Liz Phair at Music Hall of Williamsburg [66 N. Sixth St. between Wythe and Kent avenues in Williamsburg, (718) 486-5400], Jan. 26 at 8 pm. Tickets $25. For info, visit


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