Photos by: Chris Besaw
Written By: Kelly Besaw
Ani DiFranco made a stop on her 2018 “Rise Up” tour at the Westcott Theater in Syracuse, NY on Sunday September 16. Ani DiFranco, the politically charged, feminist fireball from Buffalo, NY, brought her mix of anthems of resistance, feminist outrage, anti-capitalism and power to the people to a very sweaty packed house of fans. The message for the night was to get out and vote. DiFranco pointed out that there was a table of eager volunteers at the venue, “ready to get you registered to vote if you aren’t already.” Opener, Peter Mulvey paused during his set to congratulate the crowd for voting in the local primary and reminded them of the importance of voting in the midterm elections.
DiFranco’s music was the mantra for my feminist awakening in high school and college in the 90s. I blasted “Out of Habit,” “Shameless” and “Untouchable Face” on repeat as if my life, at the time, depended on it. Although Ani did not perform any of these songs Sunday night, I still felt right at home with her carefree stage presence, raspy call to arms and what she described as, “a lot of picking and grinning.”
I do have to mention that it was excruciatingly hot in the venue. The crowd was soaked in sweat and many were doing their best to try to fan themselves. There are no fans and there seemed to be no air flow at all. I could only think that if we were that warm, Ani and her band must have been much worse. She didn’t let it slow her down for a second. She was onstage singing and playing for the entire 90-minute set and only paused once or twice to towel off sweat and take a quick sip of water. She did stop at one point stating, “I don’t think there’s any air conditioning. Hello. If there is air conditioning, now would be the time to turn it on…Please.”
DiFranco worked her way through her twenty-five year plus catalog of tunes with a smile on her face the entire time. She kicked off the evening with “Shy” an interesting choice given the opening line is “Well the heat is so great it plays tricks with the eye.” She rounded out the setlist with older tunes, “Fuel,” “Names and Dates” and “Napoleon.” She played some newer stuff as well, “Still My Heart,” “Deferred Gratification” and “Binary.”
For the encore, opener Peter Mulvey, returned to the stage to the perform an inspiring rendition of the 1930s labor movement anthem “Which Side Are You on?” The concert ended with the classic “Overlap” from her 1994 album Out of Range. The message for the night: There is hope. So, get out and vote!
Set list: Shy, Half-Assed, Fuel, Still My Heart, Life Boat, Dithering, Happy All the Time, Alla This, Play God, Coming Up, Napoleon, Zoo, Names and Dates and Times, 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover (Paul Simon cover), Deferred Gratification, Binary
Encore: Which Side Are You On? (with Peter Mulvey), Overlap (with Peter Mulvey)