The Blow's new stage show, anchored by Lindsay Lohan
Mikhaela Yvonne Maricich--the musician who performs under the moniker The Blow--climbs onstage and begins tapping on the microphone with her index finger, sending a padded thump reverberating through the crowd. She begins a cover of The Eagles’ “Peaceful Easy Feeling” — keeping time with her finger; her voice rising plaintively. “Oh,” I think to myself. “I hope this isn’t all classic rock covers.”
Right after that first song she starts in real smooth with the audience patter, drawing us all closer to her with her statements framed as questions, the upward inflection leading us along. A quick Google search reveals she always says these things and that it was not off-the-cuff, as I had assumed. It is traveling material, but it feels fresh. She asks the crowd if anyone knows how long it has been since The Blow put out an album, noting it was longer than the span in which The Beatles put out all of their records.
She sings an old standard and she dances, and when she moves she’s a fire hazard. After she stops singing she tells a story, probably apocryphal, about meeting with a famous celebrity to write love songs for that celebrity’s very public lesbian relationship. We all know she is talking about Lindsay Lohan. Pitchfork wrote a piece about this show in 2009 that referenced Lohan in the title. But for whatever reason (legal?) Maricich never mentions Lohan. She says she and the Unnamed Celebrity had a conversation in a restaurant in Los Angeles, and the Celebrity was relating her mother’s reaction to the relationship:
“‘Oh, like you need more attention. I know you’re just making this up!’ and what she said to her mom was “It is like she and I are just inventing this together.” And I told her 'THAT is amazing. If you have any more stories like that I want you to bring them to me, because I really want to know what it’s like for you.'”
The audience guffaws. Of course Maricich wouldn’t care about any of that; Lohan is such a celebrity and is so different from Maricich. If you read that Pitchfork review you might catch that crack about the difference between a woman like Lohan and a woman like herself. Maricich continues, putting a little sex in her voice and emulating the pop star.
“‘You wanna know what it’s like for me?’” Hair flip. “Then she started doing something underneath the table.”
The audience hoots. She lets the implication hang in the air.
“She was kicking off her shoes and kind of pushing them over to me under my — right up to my feet. “And she said, ‘You should put those on and walk to the bathroom and back.’” She holds up a pair of studded disco fashion pumps, and lays out on stage to put them on. When the songs begin, the joke is over. Maricich manages to find the human center in tabloid sensation. Part of her new stage show is a passion for the pop star, and the song she sings for the breakup song, the song for when it was announced that Lohan and Ronson were "dunzo," well, it is heartbreaking.
But part of it is about Maricich learning the limits of her marketability. She tells stories about meeting with a style coach, growing her hair long. At one point she strips off her shirt to reveal that the tights she’s wearing are actually a body suit. She is making fun of herself, but also making us see her more clearly. “I believe I may be infinite. If you interest is infinite," she sings at the end of the stage show, and I believe her.
These songs are as tender and as understanding as any The Blow has ever written, and it is about someone a lot of people have written off completely, from what they’ve seen in the tabloids. I don’t know if it is a greater tribute to Maricich’s ability to empathize or to the inevitability of growing to love your subject, but when this album comes out next year I will come to it wide-eyed and hopeful, that through telling me imagined stories about people I don’t know, she can tell me things about myself.