K.Flay (Kristine Flaherty) brought her Solutions Tour to First Avenue on Tuesday and introduced Minneapolis fans to not only her fantastic new album, but also her new upbeat and happy vibe. But first were the opening bands, Denny and Houses.
Unfortunately, I could not get downtown early enough to catch Denny’s set but heard they were great from attendees I asked. I hope to catch them next time. TCM’s photographer, Jordan, did get some great shots of the band though.
Houses is a band from Chicago and told Minneapolis attendees that they were happy to be playing in a city somewhat close to home. They said they were about half-way through the Solutions Tour with K.Flay and have really enjoyed it so far, especially K.Flay’s fans who have been great, caring people. Houses has a very synthesized, mellow pop sound. My favorite songs they played were “Hold Me Up” with it’s heavier beat and keyboard parts, and “Left Alone.” They finished their set with “Fast Talk” and then made way for the main act.
K.Flay’s hopeful and optimistic perspective was evident right from the start as the “Dr. Who” or “Hey Song” played as entrance music and K.Flay’s voice could be heard from offstage, like our conscience, telling each of us to think of something positive in our lives and focus on that tonight. Her bright new outlook on life was also reflected in the matching bleach-white t-shirts and white jeans that the singer and her two bandmates wore as they sprinted on stage; this in stark contrast to the dark or all-black outfits typically worn. Heavy bass vibrated through the crowd as K.Flay opened with three straight songs from her new album, Solutions. She would eventually play all ten songs from the record released in July, starting with “Not in California”. The 34-year-old, yet youthful, singer stood between her drummer and bassist, atop risers in the back of the stage as the slow, churning song opened with stomach-vibrating bass, but soon was twirling and dancing as she would do all night.
Next was my personal favorite from Solutions, “This Baby Don’t Cry”, for which Dan Reynolds (Imagine Dragons) was given co-writing credit. This fast-paced track is a legit dance track with its unique and irresistible beat, with claps surrounding its chorus line. A guitar was brought out to K. Flay at the front of the stage for the last half of the song. “Bad Vibes” concluded the opening trio from Solutions and was clearly the most recognized song so far, as its the lead single from the album. While first crouching at the front of the stage while singing, K. Flay was soon high stepping in her big black boots alongside her impressive supporting musicians, until the song concluded with a long roar from the crowd.
Speaking briefly during this first break in the action, K. Flay told the Minneapolis crowd that tonight, she gets to play in one of the greatest cities in the whole wide world. Then she took us back to three of her earlier tunes, beginning with “Black Wave”. We saw the darker side of K.Flay during this one, as she did her best zombie impression before leaping from the drum platform for an intense finish to the song. “Giver” was a crowd favorite and K. Flay danced beside the drummer as he banged out a rhythmic solo mid-song . After “Make Me Fade”, clapping began the upbeat “Good News”, and this pop song from the new album got bodies moving again. Again, the crowd roared when given the opportunity during a brief pause in the song, then K.Flay resumed singing and finished strongly.
Now it was time for some interaction as K.Flay asked the crowd if we could practice something together. She had us repeat after her, “I feel it. I want it. I need it. I love it.” These were, of course, the chorus lyrics from “Champagne,” which is such a cool song with its quickening and building lyrics. She bounded across the front of the stage to hold out the microphone four times for each of the lines we practiced, and I think we did well. Next was the opening song from Solutions, “I Like Myself (Most of the Time)” which the singer introduced by saying, “It’s not always easy to love yourself, but it’s easier to like yourself. That’s what this song’s about. Minneapolis, I want to see everyone’s hands up.”
At this point there was a brief exit from stage to regroup for a two-song, acoustic set. The trio sat down on the edge of the stage risers with the bassist/guitarist playing acoustic guitar and the drummer using a single drum and cymbal brought out for him, with K.Flay between them. She was soaked in sweat and admitted it was hot in here on this unusual 90-degree September day. The first song during this segment was “Nervous”, the song that K.Flay wrote about her girlfriend Miya, who she would refer to again later. She told us how much she loves “these guys,” her bandmates, who have been playing together for a few years now. Continuing the acoustic set, next was “a throwback”, “Can’t Sleep”, as fans were invited to sing along if they knew it, and this identified her diehard fans.
As her drummer and guitarist left the stage for a break, K.Flay hooked up her electric guitar and readied to play a solo version of Liz Phair’s “Fuck & Run”. She pointed to a Liz Phair show she attended soon after graduating from Stanford as really influencing her. Then many years later, it was again at a Liz Phair concert that she met the special person in her life, Miya, and how they later fell in love. After she finished playing her cover of the song that carries much meaning for her, the full band returned in full force for three more songs from the new album. This included “DNA”, the song about her father, with K.Flay singing, “I wish that you were here so I could thank you.”
K.Flay clearly feels her music and it moves her, emotionally and physically. She can’t resist moving while she sings, nor can the audience. As the heavy recorded bass for “Only The Dark” began, she used one of her favorite moves, the swim move for another song that has such an enticing beat. She asked her fans, “Do you like “Ice Cream”?” as she played yet another from Solutions before reverting to one of her earlier rap numbers, “So Fast, So Maybe”, that again marked her devoted followers. After thanking the opening bands, Denny and Houses, K.Flay explained that while she is always asked if she wants a drink, or beer, or whatever before taking the stage, she doesn’t need any of that and plays all her shows sober. “The people of Minneapolis are going to get me f…ed up tonight. I’m already “High Enough”,” was her intro for the song. This favorite from Every Where Is Some Where concluded the main set, with the singer exiting, even before the song ended, so she could take a bit longer break before the encore.
Can you name that tenth and final song from Solutions that wasn’t played yet? Correct, it was “Sister”, and it opened the two-song encore set. The song that says “I wanna be your sister” then asks, “Do you wanna be mine?” got the crowd involved before the obvious grand finale of “Blood in the Cut”. Just it’s opening notes elicited shrieks and screams from the crowd as they recognized it and K.Flay made sure her performance of this song was not disappointing to the casual attendees that waited all night for the song they knew. She brought the intensity up another notch, dancing and twirling wildly to her massive radio hit that helped her cross-over and find the ears of rock listeners like me. Before concluding the song, she instructed the crowd to crouch down on the ground then had them spring up to launch one final flurry.
What a ferocious finish to an awesome show, oozing with energy and positivity! While she did not stray from her 19-song setlist that has been the boilerplate for this tour, she did not need to, as it was all-encompassing and designed nicely with that mid-show acoustic set and a good mix of old and new songs. Make sure to catch K.Flay next time she comes to town, and for now enjoy her Solutions.
Not in California / This Baby Don’t Cry / Bad Vibes / Black Wave / Giver / Make Me Fade / Good News / Champagne / I Like Myself (Most of the Time) / Nervous (Acoustic) / Can’t Sleep (Acoustic) / Fuck & Run (Solo, Liz Phair Cover) / DNA / Only The Dark / Ice Cream / So Fast, So Maybe / High Enough.
Encore: Sister / Blood in the Cut.