She climbed onto the indoor stage at Sidewinder looking like Agent Dana Scully’s artistic daughter. She donned a blue paper crown and strummed away on a lighter blue electric guitar dotted with rainbow stickers. She’s Lisa Prank, and she was at South by Southwest on Tuesday night to rock and overshare.
Seattle’s Robin Edwards describes her sound as “TMI punk.” That’s a good one; I might also suggest “riot grrrl scout.” Full of quirk and nasal confessionals, Lisa Prank’s appropriation of a school supply designer’s name and her choice to dub her 2016 album “Adult Teen” shore up her “dear diary, I’m a full-grown woman” weirdness.
An off-kilter sense of humor at Lisa Prank’s SXSW show — her imaginary band deserved a break from the empty stage because “they get no glory, their name is not on the poster” — cut up the heartache pulsing through most of the singer’s songs. It’s easier to take a line like “Rather be lonely than belong to anyone/I say it’s true, I know it’s not” when just minutes earlier Edwards had asked for more vocals in the monitor because “I’m an egomaniac who needs to be validated.” Throughout her set, the singer fought through the kinds of problems that are supposed to vacate the premises around age 19 but never really do with beachy punk as her only weapon. At least she admits that teen drama really just turns into adult drama.
Lisa Prank might have worn a paper crown, and she might sell herself as a perpetual teen, but she’s got nerves of steel. As she might put it, “if you’re sad, you’re listening to the wrong song.”