Ida Maria and the downside of authenticity
Everyone in my family is a fan of Ida Maria, especially Lydia (1, 2) and me (3). As someone who wants to hear new music from her I was delighted when she tweeted recently that she was “sunburned and ready for The Last Tour Ever with Fortress Round My Heart.” That was the good news. The bad news is that this last tour behind her debut is a package tour helmed by the pointless Perez Hilton. Oh well, I figured, in these days of there not being any record industry anymore, you accept help from anyone.
That tour came through town on Monday. Lydia and I couldn’t go, for a variety of reasons, and I’m glad we didn’t. Turns out, as laid out in Idolator, that she abandoned the stage early on in the set, came back after a delay to deliver an apology, most of one more song, another apology, and left again for good. She is now off the tour.
This seemed like a typical flameout from someone who’s toured too much. Nothing new to see, just move along. But then I saw a video of part of the truncated show (start watching it at 2:33):
This performance of “Keep Me Warm,” even as viewed in a tiny YouTube window, is hard to watch. It’s dark, deep, discomforting, and terrifying. She’s crying, she is desperate to sing but sometimes can’t, and after the punk-rock-guitar-break-in-the-middle-of-a-ballad part she is so far gone she holds notes so long you fear they will never end. Her singing is so loud, so raw, so hard for her to do but it’s all she can do until she can’t even do that anymore, that you feel some relief when she finally gives up, although in her apology at the end you know relief is the last thing she’s going to feel for some time.
People who love rock’n’roll sometimes think about authenticity, wondering: was that real? did that feel real? Of course, we consider authenticity in the context of performance. Rock’n’rollers on stage aren’t being real; they’re on a stage, performing. Sometimes they may really feel what they’re doing, but it doesn’t come across that way. Sometimes they may be bored or distracted, but they’re such pros that the performance feels authentic. Either way they’re on a stage, performing. I suspect what I find most poignant about this clip is that I’m watching a terrific performer trying to perform, trying to turn whatever she’s feeling into performance, but she can’t. What we see is something real, someone in trouble.