Hell No to HB2 with Ingrid Michaelson and friends
Last weekend, the one and only Ingrid Michaelson put on a show that will forever live in the hearts of LGBTQA+ members of the community, on a local and national level. Before Bobby and I tell you about how cool the show was, let me give you some background info on how it all came together earlier this year.
On March 23rd, 2016, the North Carolina General Assembly passed House Bill 2. In case you’re not familiar with the bill, it dictates which restroom individuals based on assigned gender, as well as restricts one’s ability to sue in state court for employment discrimination based on race, sex, religion, and other categories that are protected by state law, and the raising of the minimum wage. You can read more about HB2 here. Over all, it strips many individuals of their right to feel comfortable in public spaces. When word got out that NC passed this bill, citizens all over the country vowed to fight this bill and fight for the equality everyone deserves. PayPal ceased future plans on their Charlotte-based office, the NBA All-Star game was moved to Louisiana, and hundreds of businesses revoked plans to visit the Carolinas. Bands cancelled shows weeks, even months, in advance as a sign of protest. Music legends like Ringo Starr, Boston, Pearl Jam, and Bruce Springsteen pulled from the Carolina music calendar, claiming they couldn’t justify playing in a state that doesn’t support its people. //embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js
Other artists felt it was crucial to play shows during this time. Artists like Against Me! And Mumford & Sons chose to dedicate their profits to organizations like Time Out Youth and other local community centers, using their stages as platforms to speak out against the bill. Amongst these artists is Ingrid Michaelson, who is keeping the fight going eight months later with the help of Kristin Russo from Everyone Is Gay and Mayor Jennifer Roberts. It’s said that Roberts penned a heartfelt letter to Michaelson, asking her to play her Charlotte date in spite of the bill.
//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.jsShe explained to the New Yorker that Charlotte needs her kind heart and spirited music now more than ever; MIchaelson agreed and acted accordingly, bringing Time Out Youth to the party and thus creating a Concert for Equality. Photograher Bobby Whitmire had a front row seat for the night:
After a rousing introduction from Kristin Russo, co-author of This is a Book for Parents of Gay Kids and co-founder of Everyone is Gay (everyoneisgay.com), as well as encouraging speeches from Rodney Tucker, Executive Director of Time Out Youth (timeoutyouth.org) and Divia Whiteberg, speaking on personal experiences of how much the Time Out Youth organization helped, it was time for the AJR brothers to hit the stage. AJR started out as street performers in NYC, so playing to a packed crowd at the Fillmore might seem like an intimidating stage to play for most people. Not these three brothers.
They exploded onto the stage and made sure everyone in the building was dancing along with every note and beat they let loose from the stage. AJR, or Adam, Jack, and Ryan; played the kind of music that forces you to tap your foot and nod your head. Speaking for myself here, I listen to mainly punk rock and black/thrash metal, but these three had me nodding along with every song and smiling the entire time they were on stage. The rest of the crowd certainly felt it as well, as I had multiple people shouting the lyrics back to the band over my head as I took photographs of them.
Aside from the original material they played, it’s also worth noting that there was an extremely interesting Weeknd cover thrown into the mix. They took a short break midway through their set and had the house lights brought up so they could take a pretty huge group photo with everyone in attendance, which can be seen on the band’s Instagram account at @AJRbrothers; if you were there go see if you can find yourself.
If you missed their phenomenal performance, don’t get too upset because the brothers will be back in Charlotte in early 2017 on their own headlining tour at the Evening Muse on February 24th, so mark your calendars. Seeing them at such an intimate venue is sure to be an incredible experience. After their performance AJR came out and greeted any and every fan that wanted to meet them; taking photos, signing autographs, and thanking everyone for their support. It’s pretty incredible to see such humble artists that are genuinely this grateful for their fans. Though their most recent single, “I’m Not Famous” proclaims just that, these three are destined for big things so keep an eye on them.
Michaelson put on a hell of show, as expected, and certainly lived up to her Hell No tour namesake. Earlier in the night Kristin Russo confessed to the packed house that she had a big crush on Michaelson when they were in college together, and from the moment Ingrid took the stage it was apparent that everyone in the room had at least a small crush on her. Playing all of the songs that people have fallen in love with throughout the years was great, but the stories that came in between those songs really made this an incredible performance.
From her discussions on the differences between the way Americans clap briefly then stop, signaling the start time of the next song, to the way German people clap and clap and clap… and never stop clapping; and the way people in France clap once; to recanting tales of her first kiss with a guy named Jimmy in her friend’s backyard way back in 1993 that led to a two-week whirlwind romance before Jimmy dumped her over the phone — the trials and tribulations of barely-teenage romance. Ingrid played songs from throughout her career, most with a full band, but there was a small intermission for the band and Ingrid belted out some of her greatest songs accompanied by the ukulele she had strapped across her chest. She also played an intensely beautiful cover of the Radiohead classic, “Creep” during this solo portion that left the audience speechless.
Shortly the band returned to the stage and all stood around the mic as Ingrid played the ukulele and everyone sang more of her older material, including my personal favorite, “You and I”. She brought the AJR brothers back out on stage to perform a song that they wrote together specifically for this tour, titled “Lotto”, and the combination of AJR, Ingrid, and Ingrid’s band on stage together was damn near perfection.
There was also a brief intermission where she discussed unflattering Instagram photos and how she wanted to resolve that issue on the spot. So naturally she brought out props for the full band and they had a pose-off right after she instructed everyone to get their phones out and snap away. She closed her show with a performance of her new single “Hell No” that had the entire audience screaming the chorus back at her, but shortly followed with a two-song encore that included her smash hit “Girls Chase Boys” and one of the most powerful anthems of our time “I’m Too Sexy” by Right Said Fred that included choreographed dancing from the entire band.
Ingrid Michaelson is a pro at performing live and this incredible performance just proved it to anyone in attendance that may have had doubts. You can catch the rest of her “Hell No” tour through the end of the month, so make sure you do. Michaelson’s presence in Charlotte last night will go down in history along with the other artists who chose to use their show as a way to fight the bill. Many fans of the artist took to social media to express their thanks for not only a great show, but for dedicating an entire show to the good fight and speaking out against the awfulness that is HB2. Charlotte thanks you, Ingrid!
Check out the rest of the photo gallery here!
Remaining Tour Dates: