Sassy commentator on music, art, and culture.

Cat Power: who are you?

Courtesy of L.A. Weekly photographer Ian Witlen


ARTIST: Cat Power
VENUE: The Palladium
DATE:  Friday, November 8 at 10:15pm
COST: $41
DEPARTED THE SHOW FEELING: I just want to give her a big hug and say it’ll be alright.

Cat Power, a.k.a. Chan Marshall, lived up to her self-made hype. The 40 year old singer-songwriter is every bit of the drunk beguiling mess that you’ve read about for years.

A Bob Dylan song streams loudly over the house speakers. The band walks on stage to a thunderous roar and begins to perform the intro to “The Greatest.” We wait for the troubled artist to make her way to the front of house: except no one arrives. At least ten torturous minutes go by of “strum, strum, strum…” and nothing. Now the audience is beginning to chatter, and yet everyone is very content and even patient with her. At any other show someone would be screaming, or boo’s would begin to escalate. But not at a Chan Marshall show- this, my friends, was expected. One could say her type of behavior is excused, and par for the course. An invisible warning sign posted for anyone purchasing a ticket to her show: “WARNING – ARTIST WILL MOST LIKELY SHOW UP WASTED. ENJOY.”

Once Cat Power made her way to the stage, a collective sigh of relief and screams descended upon the crowd. Her infamous husky voice carried the opening track, ripping through most expectations.

When I glanced around the Palladium many looked dumbfounded and speechless.  Was the collective gasp a combination of bewilderment and awe? Are we all thinking the same thing? Who is this person on stage? Is this really Chan Marshall, or a homeless lesbian who hangs out on Hollywood Blvd?

Mid-set Cat Power began to speak her incoherent thoughts: “I’m a grown ass adult. Thank you for coming.” Again, this is nothing new. In fact, what I’m saying here has been documented for almost two decades. Now in her 40’s, it is no longer endearing but rather more concerning. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about artistic expression – someone might have an off night, etc.

My buddy standing next to me leaned over and said, “Well I’m glad I’m here to witness her show. Might be the only opportunity I’ll have.” The thought lingered in my mind, she could be right. The seed was planted and made me evaluate the show from a different perspective. The music became a backdrop to the bigger picture of someone who was a on a ticking time clock. The music still carries and has many dimensions, but is Chan’s destiny to take the immortal rock star route. Judging by the lyrics on her latest release Sun, and her unrelenting behavior, she is fully aware of her date with this untimely fate. 

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