Liz Phair and Speedy Ortiz bring indie rock healing to Union Transfer

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Liz Phair | photo by Josh Pelta-Heller for WXPN

Before their last two songs on Friday night, openers Speedy Ortiz’ frontwoman Sadie Dupuis offered some context. “The first one is a love letter to Gritty,” referring to the oddly-lovable-slash-horrifyingly-psychotic-looking new Flyers’ mascot that she’d petitioned to have at the show that night. “I’m officially dating him, and I don’t know where he is.”

“The second one is a love letter to Liz Phair, who told me that she doesn’t care for Gritty because he doesn’t treat me that well. That’s a good friend. That’s a really good friend.” An at-capacity Union Transfer cheered. “We’re so grateful to be on tour with our really good friend Liz Phair. Who’s much better for me than Gritty.”

Speedy offered up a crackling opening set of introspective indie rock curated from the appreciable catalog they’ve amassed over the last six years, thrashing and throttling their instruments and casually stage-bantering, clearly comfortable with the rock stardom they’ve earned themselves. Dupuis was openly angry about current events as well, parlaying her platform into some dutiful political activism, and unflappable as she capably made sure a miserable heckler knew he was at the wrong rock show.

Phair acknowledged the current political landscape too, even if she took a more resigned tone. “Thank god for these shows and thank god for you guys,” she lamented. “Every time I turn on the news it’s just so fucked up. So thank you for being here tonight.” The singer treated her sold-out crowd to a set of signature — though somewhat subdued — favorites, opening with her 1994 hit “Supernova,” and covering Johnny Nash’s “I Can See Clearly Now,” which seemed like a surprise even to her, as she seemed to have accidentally struck the song’s first chord, looking to her band for some support.

“Fuck Brett Kavanaugh!,” related one fan, after an encore of her signature “Fuck And Run.”

“Is that really the only problem?,” returned the singer, pointedly. “Is it?,” she asked again, as though reprimanding an unruly preschool class. “There aren’t enough bulldozers . . .,” she trailed off, maybe reconsidering the negative direction she was taking, “There’s this. There’s now. There’s all of you.”

Liz Phair setlist
Supernova
Johnny Feelgood
Cinco De Mayo
Uncle Alvarez
Everything To Me
Never Said
6’1”
Help Me Mary
The Game
Go West
Mesmerizing
I Can See Clearly Now
Polyester Bride
Stratford-On-Guy
Extraordinary
Why Can’t I?

Encore:
Fuck And Run
Divorce Song

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