I love to support women in the arts. More than that, I love to see strong frontwomen kick ass and take names in the music world. It's a tough gig being a rockstar, made exponentially tougher when you're not a dude. I'd seen Dorothy on two other occasions, so when a Scoot Inn tour stop was announced in Austin, I grabbed a bunch of local friends (and some less than local), assuring them of a 'show they wouldn't soon forget.'
Ones to Watch Presents Dorothy: The Freedom Tour. How could it be anything but epic? Seeing her open on for Greta Van Fleet on the Stubbs Austin stage a year prior, her set was a sultry, seductive, powerful display of some serious vocal talent. It was fiery: bright lights and flying hair; big drama and mighty vocals. You couldn't look away. We caught her again at Southside Ballroom in Dallas; by the second time around, I was smitten. Sparkling cape and groovy bell-bottoms, and her band; a troupe of rockers each and every bit as gritty as Dorothy herself. This second show was big, indulgent, and sinfully rockstar-ific.
We were suitably thrilled to catch Dorothy headlining, along with an exciting lineup of openers. Austin's very own Black Heart Saints started the night with their signature swagger and stoic rock sensibility. Setting the stage for a rock show to end all rock shows, the energy was high and crowd enamored. Our second band was a little different - one I'd not heard of before. And forgive my ignorance here, because the lanky, nerdy 90's punk rock vibe of Spirit Animal is worth knowing. "E-brake Jake" and his motley band of musicians got us all moving with something a little different. Truly a showman, the energy accelerated as the final riffs of their last song rang out.
We waited the standard "slightly too long" before the lights dimmed and our highly-anticipated star took the stage. It seemed a disorganized kerfuffle as musicians found their spot on a slightly-too-dim stage. Why they decided not to light the stage is beyond me - perhaps, I thought, it was to deter the photographers from capturing much of anything. Dorothy was there, but she was barely the center of attention. Shrouded in an oversize hat and large zebra-print trench coat, she moved slow. It was a laborious start to her set, entirely lacking the energy and 'oomph' we'd come to expect. I gave her the benefit of the doubt, thinking "surely she's just building up to something." But that something never came. The energy was off, the effort wasn't there. Her biggest anthems weren't big; her signature 'fire'? Not even a spark.
I get that everyone has a bad day now and then, but Dorothy certainly didn't bring us their best. Friends and colleagues I'd mercilessly dragged along looked at me with raised eyebrows. I can't speak against the band's abilities, nor can I say the music was bad, but the effort just simply wasn't there. It seemed dim, dull, muted from the Dorothy I know and was so excited to see. Firey? Nope, flat. Extinguished. Perhaps I've now seen too many excellent examples of what's possible when the ladies take charge (Kaleido, I'm lookin' at you!). The bar is set high, but it's still a sad day. My friends did a quick "thank you, next" and moved on to raving about the energy of Black Heart Saints and Spirit Animal. I will remain in the "I heart Dorothy" camp for now. I hope the next tour is something to write home about.
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