Avril Lavigne Top Secret Mall tour

Thurs April 8
Clackamas Town Center
12000 SE 82nd

According to the folks at avrillavigne.net, (who, if you signed up, should have already left a message on your mobile) Avril Lavigne will appear at the Clackamas Town Center today at 5pm. Avril's not the first person to tour the mall; she joins a long and sugary procession of Tiffanys, Debbie Gibsons, *NSyncs, Britneys, and Mandy Moores who've hawked their tunes in American shopping compounds. For candy pop stars, the mall tour is logical because you're dropping in, straight on your fans: teens and tweens. AKA Americans with buying power! But the second you play a gig in a mall, all pretense that your music was more than a cog in the perpetual machinations of capitalism are ground up in the garbage disposal. This is a problem, in particular, for the "punk rocker"/"rebel" image of Avril. When does one realize their art is merely a product--when their acoustic version of "Sk8er Boi" gets drowned out by the sound of Jamba Juice blenders?

I'm not saying I'm above it all; shit, the last time I saw an Avril video was in the juniors' section at Nordstrom. I love teen magazines, Tiffany and, to a certain extent, that terrible Hilary Duff movie with that hot Roman dude. What's most interesting about it, though, is Avril's seemingly revamped image; lately she's been insisting she's "NOT ANGRY!" Clearly, she'd be much happier if she accepted there's nothing punk, aggro, or rebellious about her. That, in fact, she and Hilary are in their much-publicized war of snippiness not because they are so different, but because they are the same--the Dayton and Columbus in the Ohio of mass market/ materialism music. Both have learned that surviving tween culture is a bitch.

So how can Avril reconcile her tough image with pandering to the Forever 21 crowd? Maybe by using her massive unit-moving powers for good, not evil. Rather than suggesting we "take down the system," though, she could kick it at the mall with her fans and discuss what it means to be an individual, how it's hard being a vilified woman, and how to stand your ground. Her new song, "Don't Tell Me," she has said, is about "being strong and not letting anyone pressure you into doing anything you don't want to" (according to steppinoutmagazine.com). If she could help only one impressionable mallrat stay off meth, she will have made the world a better place.