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Lilith Fair—-everyone’s favorite all-female music festival of the late ’90s—-is coming back next year, and it’s slated to make a stop in Washington, D.C. I am torn.

On the one hand, it was great to see so many successful female musicians all sharing one stage—-the original 1997 line-up included Sarah McLachlan, Meredith Brooks, Paula Cole, Shawn Colvin, Natalie Merchant, Joan Osborne, and Jewel. On the other hand, who the fuck wants to listen to that shit?

Lilith Fair was never an event for people who happened to end up catching Sarah McLachlan in concert once—-that can be excused. This was an event for people who wanted to shell out cash to listen to Sarah McLaughlin and thirty of her closest musical artists play for hours and hours and hours—-sometimes simultaneously. On multiple stages. And the sheer intensity of the folk-rock therein is straining my ability to type without using italics.

To be fair: Lilith Fair also hosted some pretty fucking cool artists over the years—-artists like Missy Elliot, Queen Latifah, Tegan and Sara, Liz Phair, and some group called Medieval Baebes, which has got to be awesome. The new tour has yet to announce any touring artists, but it’s likely that in 2010, Lilith Fair will go a bit lighter on the adult contemporary than it did ten years ago. I see that the new tour Web site is already revising history a bit to emphasize Lilith Fair artists who have retained popularity—-like Christina Aguilera, who played just a couple of dates in Lilith Fair in 1999, but is now second on the list of the tour’s big-name alums. Personally, I’m really hoping that Lilith Fair will be able to pull this one out: It will recruit a bunch of awesome female artists, help some up-and-coming female musicians find an audience, and raise a ton of money for women’s charities.

But what if it doesn’t? What if Lilith Fair can’t recover from its reputation as a jasmine-scented, hippie-dippy folk-fest featuring Jewel? After all, Sarah McLachlan is still organizing this thing, and since she just put out a new album single titled “One Dream,” I’m not sure that her career has exactly evolved with the times. But the question isn’t whether Lilith Fair has got its pulse on 2010 musical tastes. The question is whether today’s most exciting female artists will even agree to play at Lilith Fair. Are we going to get Lady Gaga, or are we going to get Evanescence?

While we’re waiting to find out, I dare you to watch every single one of these videos from 1997 Lilith Fair contributors. If you want to get the real festival feel, put them all on and listen to them simultaneously.

Sarah McLachlan, “I Will Remember You”


Paula Cole, “Where Have All the Cowboys Gone”


Meredith Brooks, “Bitch”


Jewel, “You Were Meant For Me”


Joan Osborne, “One of Us”


Shawn Colvin, “Sunny Came Home” (Actually a performance at 1997’s Lilith Fair!)


Natalie Merchant, “Carnival”


Photo by radiobread, Creative Commons License