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The Stub Project: Lou Reed Should Have Opened for Victoria Williams – Universal Amphitheatre – 6.7.2000

June 3, 2011

As I came across this stub I could not help but wonder what I was possibly thinking going to see Lou Reed again. This date was just a few short years away from when I walked out on him at the Wiltern. What possibly could have possessed me?  After all, the Universal Amphitheatre is not an intimate venue and at $72 ($94 in 2011), this night out was not exactly a bargain. Am I really that much of a masochist? Am I so full of self-loathing that I would once again empty my pockets (and my dignity) at the altar of Lou Reed?

Thankfully, the answer is no.

This ticket stub is, in fact, a surprising testimony to my optimism and love of life itself. While it required a few clicks to jog my memory, there was a reason for my attendance at the show – and much like the last time I had seen Lou Reed, I was not really there for him at all, but was there for the opening act, in this case, the great Victoria Williams.

Despite the fact that Lou Reed’s former wife Sylvia executive produced the Sweet Relief album (a benefit for Victoria) in which Lou (soullessly) covered “Tarbelly and Featherfoot,” it was an especially odd pairing as Victoria Williams is everything Lou Reed is not: eternally optimistic, joyful, and effervescent. Gratefully, I saw her around fifteen times when I lived in Los Angeles. It’s impossible to be in her presence and not smile; she doesn’t even have to play a note. While clearly unfair to hold mere mortals to such standards, in my eyes she is simply all that is good and pure in the world. She’s the kind of singer that can save your life, that is, if you’re looking to be saved.

While I don’t particularly remember Victoria’s set that night, I am quite certain that most of Lou Reed’s fans were too late to see her or, barring that, talked through her too-short performance. I also don’t remember who I went with, but I’m sure we didn’t stick around for Lou. Despite my faded memory, I can almost see us now full of light, blissed-out from our short dose of Victoria, fleeing from the impending shadow of the soul-eating zombie that Lou Reed had become. Wanting to hold onto the Victoria buzz for as long as possible, faster faster faster we scurried. Don’t look back! Just get to the parking lot and go go go, escape the grotesque neon obscenity that is the Universal City Walk and the noxious aura of the Lou Reed Hate Machine for the greener pastures of anywhere else but here …

Behold Victoria at the House of Blues. (There’s video of her and Lou doing Crazy Mary out there, but Lou kind of ruins it.)

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