The Second Coming of Lilith Fair
BY David Michael Conner
May 06 2010 6:05 PM ET
“I’ve always gone to concerts with friends — it’s always been tribal. The good thing with the online networks now, with the digital age, is that that tribe can be even bigger. And I think that’s an awesome thing. I think we’re going to see different tribes traveling to different Lilith Fairs based on the artists that are at different Lilith Fairs. There’s no show that’s the same as the last one.
"Maybe we overdiversify — who knows? But if we picked a number of artists who were all very similar and had them all play the same bill, then obviously we’d amplify that tribe. But when you put a Sarah, Kelly Clarkson, Miranda Lambert, and a Queen Latifah and then you throw in a Suzanne Vega and a La Roux, that’s a very different show. It’s a show that you’re not going to see anywhere else. When we started putting this together, we said, this isn’t so much about 2010 as it is about 2015. It’s like, you know, how can we have truly international lineups? It’s not just diverse musically; it’s also diverse culturally.”
If the marketing talk were coming from Donald Trump or Donny Deutsch, it would be tempting to think that the term “diverse” is code for “diverse portfolio” — appealing to the greatest number of people possible, to secure the bottom line. But despite McBride’s strategic thinking — and despite the occasionally transparent spin, such as his suggestion that “Ke$ha is today’s Christina Aguilera” (!) — his heart seems to be in the right place, which is to say not in his wallet.
In fact, McBride is a lot like McLachlan.
Take, for example, his response when asked about Christian musician Jennifer Knapp, who recently came out as a lesbian.
“Big deal.” he says. “I’ve been working with Jennifer for quite a long time. You have to realize the way we look at Lilith. We don’t look at what side of the fence you’re on. We look at music. People are people. And musicians who make great music, we’d like to have on Lilith.
“You know, I knew Jennifer was [in the] closet, like, six, seven years ago. I’m quite sure within the Christian scene it’s a big deal, but to me, it was a complete ... like, why’s it even an issue? Just know that for the four people who run Lilith, it’s not a big deal."
But surely McBride recognizes Lilith Fair’s enormous LGBT following?
“You know,” he says, “even when the press were like, you know, this is a lesbo, hairy-armed festival. You know, if that’s your perception of it, that’s great. Our perception is, this is 11 artists playing in a safe environment. Wow. Show me where that happens every day. It’s kind of funny. We don’t look at it the way everyone else does. This is just a great music festival. How can we put together 11 great artists and make it fun?”