Everyone in the room at Old Town School of Folk Music had that moment when they fell in love with a Lisa Loeb song. For many it might have been “Stay”, or “I Do”, or “Do You Sleep.” For me, it was “Fools Like Me.” This was over 10 years ago, and here she was gracing us devoted fans with her presence at the charming Old Town School of Folk Music on Sunday evening, like the best kind of time capsule. I went into the evening with guarded expectations and irrational thoughts: What if she actually hates “Stay” so much that she refuses to play it? Was she truly this full of feelings, whimsical being I had imagined her to be? The answer to my last question is a resounding yes.
The show was opened up by Old Town School of Folk Music teacher Chris Corsale, part of the staff since 2013. An accomplished guitarist and songwriter, Corsale is a member of The Right Now, who have toured all over the country. With such a genuine spirit, Corsale walked on stage and made us all feel like we already knew him. Equipped with wit and humility, Corsale played a handful of his sometimes bluesy, sometimes rock, sometimes folk songs. My favorite parts of his set were twofold; the first was when he sang “Love, Love, Love” and got us all to sing the chorus, because, as he put it, the entire audience got the chance to open for Lisa Loeb. Hey, I’ll take it. The second was when he moved from a funny anecdote about his mother to a tender song written about her titled “Porchlight.” With incredible emotional range within his songs, his set was the perfect cadence before Lisa Loeb stepped onstage.
Loeb began her hour and 15 minute long set with “No Fairy Tale” off of her most recent solo album of the same name. She co-produced this one with Chad Gilbert from New Found Glory; you can hear the influences, but the song identities are all hers. The concert was so special because it was just Lisa and her guitar. No frills, no backing band. Just Lisa and her wit and her songs. She continued through and took us time traveling back to her first album, released in 1992, and back again to 2016.
She played a song a fan requested from Twitter, much to their delight in the front section, and then let her vulnerability shine through during “Falling in Love.” For me, this was my favorite moment of the set. Loeb is able to convey a story authentically and believe in it 100%, and you could feel her conviction throughout the room. The audience reveled in every single minute.
Her charm continued to shine through when she talked about her day in the city. Yep, she ate some deep dish pizza. However, she ordered stuffed pizza, and instantly there was disdain from the crowd. “Did I order the wrong thing?” she said while laughing, as someone suggested Lou Malnati’s. She’d go there tomorrow.
She kept us laughing when she discussed her summer camp album, when she really wanted to create a song about “an inanimate food.” She regaled us with a story of how Steve Martin contributed backing vocals to her vision for this, and so “The Disappointing Pancake” came to be. I truly believe she’s the only person who could sing such sweet and silly ballads and remain so effortlessly cool.
Then, the nostalgia hit. The room was quiet during “Stay”, which sounded even better than the original recording, truly. I wish you all could have been there, too. Then she continued with “Fools Like Me” via a request (thank you, because it brought me home).
She took audience requests as she rounded out her set, ending with the superbly emotional “Sandalwood.” With one last encore, she waved to the crowd, and then offered to meet and greet after the show by the merch table. I obviously stood in line, anxiously awaiting what I’d say when I met her. I didn’t say any of those things that I thought I’d deliver coolly, but of course Lisa Loeb didn’t care. Thanks for the music, Lisa, and for bringing a bunch of cathartic nostalgia to a packed house of fans. We’ll be eternally grateful.