Fiona Apple SXSW 2012: Singer Comes Back in Austin But Don't Call it a Comeback
A live wire is dangerous -- and, yes, exciting -- because of its power and unpredictability. But it's also an adjective that can be hard to come by at SXSW, where 2000-plus acts play here, there and everywhere, and often deliver rote set after set.
But live wire is the most apt descriptor for Fiona Apple, an alt-era singer-songwriter who became an unlikely pop star off a disquietingly porn-y music video for 'Criminal' but has since proven to be one of the 1990s most enduring artists. Enduring, but also rarely seen.
It's been seven years since Apple released an album -- and five since she has performed outside of Los Angeles -- so expectations were sky-high for her long-delayed return at Stubb's, especially after she'd recently announced her (oh so lengthily titled) new album would be on the way. Those expectations provided Apple and the show itself with a palpable electricity.
Wearing long hair in a high ponytail, a pink sports bra under a black negligee with a flowing black skirt, she emerged and immediately flailed about for a few moments to release some of her apparently unending supply of nervous energy.
Her eyes were dark, her skin tight and, when she launched herself into 'Fast as You Can,' her voice ragged -- but at no loss to its power, even despite some sound issues that buried her vocals toward the start. She was also manic and intense, and when she sang "You think you know how crazy/How crazy I am," we thought no, but we can imagine. And then, after admitting to a genuine onstage space-out during 'Paper Bag' ("Because I was like, 'F--, I'm doing a show!"), she let slip some self-mocking crazy. "You're imaginary, you're all in my head!" she yelled at the crowd. "You're not