Francis and The Lights is an artist on the rise. Francis Farewell Starlite is the brain behind the project more widely known as Francis and the Lights. The term “and the Lights” refers both to the lights on a stage and pixels on a computer screen. Francis has been making music for well over a decade but it’s in the past few years he’s catching the long and well deserved buzz. Francis and The Lights brought his Just For Us Tour to Minneapolis’ iconic First Avenue on Friday and after his set it was clear why Francis and The Lights is finally having his well-deserved moment. And we hope it’s a moment that lasts for years to come.
Friday night was a tad unusual for a First Ave show. Doors opened at 8:00 pm but Francis and The Lights didn’t take to the stage until 10:00 pm. In between doors and set times classical music blared over the roar of the packed First Avenue mainroom. A montage of pool water (circa the Just For Us album cover) played on the screens around the venue. There was a palpable energy in the air and there were plenty of drinks to be had. Though there was no opener the energy in the air was more contagious than when there is an opener. The crowd didn’t seem to mind hanging around having drinks and chatting with friends ahead of the set. Around 9:30 or so the energy in the room began to shift. Kanye West’s Ye album roared over the mainroom speakers. Francis and The Lights played a major role in West’s latest album producing a handful of tracks off the album. The energy grew as the Ye album played top to bottom. Francis and The Lights is one of those interesting artists that has quite the star-studded list of friends and collaborators such as Kanye West, Chance the Rapper, Lizzo, Drake and more but is often behind the scenes. We’re finally getting see the genius of Francis and The Lights take center stage and that was the case on Friday.
Francis and The Lights took to the dimly lit stage shortly after 10:00 pm and the crowd exploded as he teased the beginning of his latest albums’ title track Just For Us. “I like his shoes,” a girl in the front row said to her friend. “Those are YEEZYS,” her friend replied. (Yeezy’s are from Kanye West’s line of designer sneakers). Francis and The Lights’ entire set was sprinkled with little traces of his star-studded circle. His set included a cover of Drake’s Karaoke which Francis helped produce. And although I think we were all hoping Kanye would make an appearance (Chance the Rapper popped up at Francis’ Chicago show) there was still a bit of celeb appearance. After a bit of coaxing from Francis and the crowd, Justin Vernon (frontman of Bon Iver),, joined Francis on stage for Friends. The 2016 track features both Justin Vernon and Kanye West who have both been avid fans and supporters of Francis & The Lights over the years.
Francis and The Light’s played for just over an hour and was a mix of the up-beat, dancey and synth-driven tracks and slower, piano ballads and mixed in of course was Francis’ signature dance moves. Francis and The Lights is an artist in every sense of the word and that talent was on full display at the Just For Us Tour stop in Minneapolis on Friday. The breadth and depth of his talent as a singer, songwriter, producer, dancer and more shined through so clearly – which is what any fan of Francis and The Lights want to see – this artist having a well deserved moment in pop music take center stage with no distractions and just absolutely kill their set. And this exactly what Francis and The Lights did.
After Friday night it’s clear that we will be seeing plenty more from Francis and The Lights in coming months and years. Add him to your list to watch. You can most likely catch Francis and The Lights at Justin Vernon’s Eaux Claires festival this summer in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. Francis and The Lights performed last summer and although Eaux Claires is keeping tight lipped around their 2018 lineup it’s likely that Francis and The Lights and friends will be in attendance.
Setlist: Intro (Just for Us Intro) / Cruise / Morning / Just for Us / Faithful Back in Time Tear It Up / Scream So Loud / I Won’t Lie to You / Breaking Up / Friends / May I Have This Dance (Remix) / My City’s Gone / Betting on Us / My Goals / Karaoke (Drake cover) / A Modern Promise / See Her Out (That’s Just Life) / Comeback / The Top / Encore: Thank You