Reviewed by Audra Schroeder, Fri., April 22, 2005
Austin Music Hall, Tuesday, April 19
We love to see people fail, and preferably in front of large groups of people. It's why everyone sits slackjawed in front of American Idol failure's so thick you can eat it with a spoon. Although Ashlee Simpson is quite familiar with public embarrassment (the lip-synching/acid reflux incident on SNL, getting booed at the Orange Bowl), the Texas native's not technically a failure. She's sold more than 300,000 copies of her debut, Autobiography, has her own reality show, and she's only 21. She's been bitchslapped by the media that gave her the sweaty power handshake in the first place, but her fans remain loyal, almost rabid. Tuesday night, her legions congregated in the bowels of the Austin Music Hall. Hordes of screaming girls dressed in tiny skirts and colored T's hyperventilated in unison as concerned fathers and totally drunk moms milled about. Before the show began, Simpson's own father/svengali walked through the crowd, and a girl who couldn't have been more than 16 grabbed his arm as he passed and then licked her hand in ecstasy. The whole show was that kind of creepy. Simpson dashed onstage in a gold overcoat, which she later took off to reveal a tiny black tank top. She phoned it in for several of the album's radio-fond tunes, including "La La," a song about dirty, dirty sex. She covered Hole's "Celebrity Skin," the Pretenders' "Brass in Pocket," and Blondie's "Call Me," while writhing around like a truck-stop stripper and letting everyone know her gramma and granpa were sitting in the balcony. Hey, and there's her dad. You kind of wished she would actually do something outrageous flash a boob, berate the crowd with expletives, eat a pound of raw hamburger, channel Courtney Love's tacky ass. Something. But we got reheated Eighties pop covered with bubble-rock guitars and a couple of "yeah yeahs." And everyone ate it up with a spoon.