Flanked by two huge banners of the mythological Lilith, Sarah McLachlan exulted to her roughly 30,000 screaming fans, "This is a selfish dream made reality!"
Indeed, her vision of a touring ensemble of women in music is now in its second summer. Over the stretch of a 12-hour hot summer day, Lilith Fair '98 played the Rose Bowl to about three-quarters of a sellout crowd. The reception was testament to the maturing of a concept that McLachlan had a hard time selling just over a year ago.
Perhaps in recognition of its core white-female audience, the lineup has broadened only slightly from its first outing. But Erykah Badu gave the audience a change of pace with some jazzy vocals and great costumes.
Ernie, a former radio music director from New York City, observes that even though the audience remains overwhelmingly homogeneous, the music is first-rate.
"I'm here because I like to hear good music, whoever plays it," he muses between Indigo Girls and Natalie Merchant sets. "I'm glad to see a bit more diversity. Now that they're getting a reputation, maybe next year they'll get even more adventurous," he adds, perhaps expanding to more hard rock.
While some prominent women in rock, such as Courtney Love and Tori Amos, have distanced themselves from Lilith Fair, saying that it perpetuates a separatist ethos, fans say that's missing the point.
Joann DiBello came from Woodland Hills, Calif., and says she wasn't interested in the tour last year, but based on word of mouth, she decided to come. She wishes she'd brought her daughter, because she says it's great to see women in charge of the overall sound, such as lead guitarists and singers.
In an industry dominated by men, Ms. DiBello adds, "This is a great way for kids to see that women can be successful at something they love doing."
* For tour dates and artist information, check out the Web site lilithfair.excite.com/
Gloria Goodale's e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org