Famed folksinger Ani DiFranco graced a sold-out crowd at San Diego’s Belly Up Tavern on June 21st, 2022. It still being the COVID(ish) era, it was a wild surprise to witness DiFranco solo up on stage, sans full band! Apparently, all her band members were “dropping like flies”, with only a trusty drummer left by her side to keep the beat.
Good thing guitar and drums is all DiFranco needs.
Following a folky trio known as The Rainbow Girls, Ani DiFranco came out to her hardcore fans, most up in front and adorned in DiFranco merchandise of yesteryear. Singing known songs and many obscure ones from her earliest albums, Ani paused between numbers to say she “came up with this setlist in a dream… while listening to the ocean…” It’s the only way to explain the thematic obscurity. Although different than her straightforward sets, DiFranco enchanted the entire house, crooning with emotion in every breathe and song note. It was almost blasphemy to be talking during her performance, with hushed voices heard so softly only here and there.
With it being so crowded and a weeknight, I warmly listened from the back before I left a little early, trying to soak up the unadulterated wisdom of DiFranco’s music and unfiltered crowd banter. This is one singer-songwriter who is unabashedly herself at all times — even after all these years of fame. Thanks so much for the unexpected intimacy of an acoustic night, Ani!
Photography by Kristy Rose