Dessa Phillips Backyard Weekender, Victoria BC, July 22

Dessa Phillips Backyard Weekender, Victoria BC, July 22
Photo: Lindsey Blane
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First off, a shoutout to Doomtree, the alternative hip-hop collective from Minneapolis, MI that count P.O.S and Cecil Otter among their members, an entity of which rapper, singer and spoken word artist Dessa Wander was once its CEO. Good on her to stick around Sunday to fill in for Kelis, who disappointingly pulled out of her planned appearance for personal reasons. It actually made cosmic sense to have her on the same night as the Revolution, given they're both from Minneapolis, but that's where the similarities between them end.
 
For all the promise of unflinching hip-hop, the majority of her set sat squarely in the realm of alternative pop, without an inkling of funk. "Dixon's Girl" broke the mould with its Cajun-cabaret feel and propulsive flows, while the collapsing drum breakdown at end of "5 out of 6" from her charting 2018 album Chime went beyond the studio recording, but otherwise, most of the songs progressed in such a stepwise fashion that nothing seemed all that unexpected.
 
Her banter and poetry was highly provocative. Granted, using Drake was a bad example of strip club rap dudes who people undeservingly strain to hear the whispered torments of their love life, then turn around and dismissively say a woman from a rap collective is expected to sing similarly revealing love songs, largely because I strain to get as far away from that crybaby playboy as possible, but the point of dual standard sexism remained.
 
That said, it was a bit confusing to hear her talk about female empowerment, and then spend much of the set complaining that the men in the crowd were paying too much attention to her drummer, Jonathan Marks, and not enough to her, the "bottle blonde with the red lipstick." You'd think she'd want to encourage guys to appreciate musicians on their skills more than their looks, but she did encourage people in other wonderful ways.
 
She told people that if they don't text their friends to tell them how much they liked her set, to talk about any other act they'd just discovered at this wonderful independent festival, one that prides itself on gender equity in its bookings. She seemed like a cool person, even if her music was only as good as Drake's.

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