Country darlin’ Lindi Ortega has spent a notable portion of the last year on the road with the boys of Social D, proving her badassness in front of large, sweaty, punk crowds, wooing them with lovely and morbid numbers about existential trainwrecks, substance “enjoyment,” and death. And, as far as her fandom is concerned, it’s apparently paid off. This past Friday, February 1st, Lindi played to an uncomfortably-packed Tin Angel audience. Although the dinner-theatre setup of the Olde City venue is fairly sterile, she managed to pack a pleasant amount of her charming grit into her nearly-hour-long set.
Last October Lindi Ortega released Cigarettes & Truckstops. The album was the follow-up to 2011’s brilliant Little Red Boots, a release that managed to blend the dusty grime that is the core of all great, classic Americana with a popular brand of sass. While Little Red Boots’ treatment of the dark and crass remains teasingly coy, (as its title implies) Cigarettes & Truckstops slams it “plop” down on the dining room table, with tracks like “The Day You Die” and “Lead Me On.”
Despite the early start time (openers Dustin Bentall & the Smokes, who also played the part of Lindi’s backing band, took the stage at 7:30) and an audience relegated to literal dinner tables and bar stools, Lindi managed a performance fit for a honky-tonk dive with a chicken-wired stage. The raven-haired, crimson-lipped vixen, who looks like a Disney princess who’s spent her last year indulging in — well, cigarettes and truckstops – put on the most badass performance Philthy is yet to see in 2013.
Not only was the set comprised equally of tracks from Little Red Boots and Cigarettes & Truckstops, but its highlights were split evenly between Lindi at her most raucous and Lindi at her most somber. Little Red Boots’ “Little Lie” (recently featured on ABC’s Nashville) and “Blue Bird” were certainly the evening’s most fun moments; the former an honest and saucily-sing-along-able take on… pretty much every relationship ever, and the latter a playfully optimistic take on our potential free-will and influence on people that we actually care about. Conversely, Cigarettes & Truckstops provided more sultry and sullen choice moments. “Use Me,” had Lindi responding to critics of her endorsement of “chemical” consumption, by encouraging the listener to give up the likes of marijuana and heroin and simply indulge in “her.” (In all fairness, Lindi, if we all had access to a creature like yourself, the leaders of the drug trade, alcohol industry, and tobacco manufacturers would be applying to trade school tomorrow.) Sadly, after the song, she confessed, “I don’t come in intravenous form.” But the night’s most touching moment was courtesy of “Heaven Has No Vacancy,” a gospel about the irony of those suicidal souls, those who most need an exit, those who most need an escape from this world… being the first denied (by “the church”) admittance to any alternative… Yeah, with Morrissey on a recording-hiatus, this song really deserves the Sartre-award for “Alien Intellectual in the World of Pop Music.”