When I heard Bif Naked was coming through to St. Catharines, I was mostly surprised since I hadn’t heard her name in some time. I thought that First Ontario Place was an odd choice for her show—since it’s a theatre and therefore all seats—but it was made known to me this would not be a typical Bif Naked rock show.
Jordan Alexander, a sweet-mannered-badass-looking lady who hails from Toronto, took the stage first to warm us up with her acoustic guitar. She comments that she’s never been to St. Catharines (no surprise there) but that it’s especially clean. (Side note: Perhaps it’s the cynicism that comes with growing up somewhere, but I never use that word to describe it…sorry St. Catharines!)
Alexander woos the crowd with her soft but powerful voice, serenading the audience with her original music punctuated by covers of “Teenage Dirtbag” by Wheatus and “Say It Ain’t So” by Weezer.
I found Alexander’s stage presence very endearing. She chats between every song, and gives us a short background story on the song she is about to play. She’s all smiles and cracks a few jokes, which makes it hard not to be swept up in her energy.
After a short intermission, a man sits down on stage with the acoustic guitar and plays until Bif Naked (whose real name is Beth Torbert) strides out and takes a seat on stage. It’s quickly revealed the man on stage with her is her husband and guitar player, Steve Allen, and that they only recently got married.
Bif Naked’s current tour follows a different rhythm than the regular rock show fans might be used to; she’s on the road promoting her new book, I Bificus, which came out in April. The set begins with her speaking, mostly about what she has been doing, and then dives into a story about her parents. This is followed by a reading of an exert from her book, and then she plays a song that relates. The night follows this pattern, and creates an interesting flow for the evening.
She plays songs like “Daddy’s Getting Married” and “Chotee”, and talks about her life, like how she came up with the name Bif Naked, and the time she ran away from home and got picked up by a prostitute ring with her friend, only to be saved by a gem of a cab driver (in Toronto, no less!) It’s obvious she has no shortage of stories to share, with a colourful life filled with excitement and lots of ups and downs.
I’ll be honest – going into this show I didn’t really know what to expect. Considering the kind of radical and vivacious personality that Bif Naked exudes in her band performances, I wasn’t sure how this would translate to low-key setting. However, I find myself dazzled by her charisma, and left genuinely happy I was fortunate enough to just sit and listen to her talk about her life, and am looking forward to reading her new book.
She did share some exciting news though – Bif Naked will have a new album out next summer. Keep your ears to the ground!