There were quite a few moving moments at XOXO, but I’ve been revisiting one in particular — when The Doubleclicks took the stage to perform “Imposter,” a song about the Mars Rover.
There were hundreds of us in the room, but it was unusually still — everyone was listening to the words of this achy, earnest song about imperfection, alienation, and loneliness. Then the singer just… forgot the lyrics.
Photo by Ben Ceveny.
She blinked at the audience dumbstruck, and said something like, “I don’t remember the words to this song anymore.” Then she turned wide-eyed to the cellist next to her, who tried to prompt her in a soft voice. She strummed a bit on her ukelele and said calmly:
“This is terrifying.”
Oh no! Ohnoohnoohnoohno. I called out, “are there lyrics online?” And everyone around searched on their phones. But by the time anyone could help, she had already started singing again. She finished the song without further incident.
Still, it was one of the most vulnerable, honest reactions I’ve ever seen onstage. Watching all that personal growth unfold in under 30 seconds was absolutely terrifying. I wanted to throw myself over her to shield her, but she didn’t even need it. She just figured it out, and kept on trucking. Slow clap, sister.
So now I feel a ferocious love for The Doubleclicks. This is funny, because when I got home I remembered that my very sweet friend Josh Cagan has been trying to tell me about them for months, because they were working on this video about being a geek girl and he wanted me to tell everyone:
Done. (Josh is at 2:14, by the way. Hi, you cutie.)
But! This brings me to another nice thing about XOXO, they kicked a guy out for making a female attendee feel crappy at a party. A nice contrast to all the controversy I mentioned around PAX. Some excerpts from Kelly Kendziorski’s post about her experience:
“I walked away thinking, “Fuck that guy,” but really I didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t confront him directly… Going to the organizers was the only other possible way to get a resolution, but, as anyone who’s been on the receiving end of harassment knows, people in positions of power around this issue aren’t always the most sympathetic.”
A friend of hers approached one of the organizers, and they asked to speak with Kelly:
“People I didn’t even know were angry about my experience and talking about kicking the harasser out of the event (which they did). Even more confusingly awesome, they didn’t seem to be doing it as a capitulation to outside pressure, but because they thought that what happened was wrong.”
Refreshing right? I think so too.
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Flickr Photos from Portland, circa 2008