The Twin Cities’ growing group of Alex Lahey fans have been devouring her new album, The Best of Luck Club, since its release back on May 16th. Luckily, Minneapolis/St. Paul was chosen for one of the 14 stops on the Australian breakout artist’s short North American tour. While St. Paul’s Turf Club is certainly no dive bar, it’s fitting that Lahey chose this popular University Avenue venue that doubles as a bar, for her Twin Cities visit. The 26-year old wrote most of the songs on her new album while stationed in Nashville, and has said she was inspired by the dive bar scene there, explaining, “Whether you’ve had the best day of your life or the worst day of your life, you can just sit up at the bar and turn to the person next to you – who has no idea who you are – and have a chat. And the response that you generally get at the end of the conversation is, ‘Best of luck,’ so The Best of Luck Club is that place.”
Alex Lahey would later in the evening joke that the opening artist, Caroline Kingsbury, was also a Melbourne native, but of Melbourne, Florida. Now residing in LA, the 23-year old pop artist simply goes by her stage name Kingsbury. Joining this North American tour is allowing the new artist to introduce her talents and surely surprise others like me, with her powerful live performances. The little prior knowledge I had of Kingsbury suggested that she was an artist more comfortable recording music in front of computer, rather than a live audience. That theory was quickly dismissed as the young singer quickly commanded the attention of the already full Turf Club. She performed with attitude and really made a name for herself. Talented musician, Julianna Zachariou, was the stunning guitarist/bassist supporting Kingsbury instrumentally and vocally, while the only male musician of the evening was the drummer in this three-piece. Kingsbury played guitar while singing several opening songs, then just grabbed a microphone, to free herself to move and dance to her more up-tempo numbers. My favorite song was “In My Brain”, with it’s pulsing beat and more pop-rock aspects. “U Take It Back” is the her most recent release and she promised more to come soon. After getting the crowd to say “Kingsbury” together she encouraged us to stop at her merch table afterwards where she was selling many items with her face on them.
The Turf Club was abuzz as the full room awaited the 9:15 start of the main act. The loud intro music of “Welcome to The Black Parade (My Chemical Romance)” served its purpose in signaling the show was beginning and getting the crowd involved. Even Alex Lahey, sang along to its chorus as she took the stage with her supporting band. She wasted no time in getting to new material, by diving right into The Best of Luck Club and playing it’s first two tracks. “I Don’t Get Invited to Parties Anymore” was a great opener with its head shaking chorus, clever guitars, and unique morphing into a musical round like the “Frere Jacques” we all sang as kids. “Am I Doing It Right” is a true anthem that that describes the life of the touring musician and that paying the price of the exhausting travels is hopefully worth it. Breaking to introduce her all-female, North American touring band, Lahey told us that she always loves coming to Minneapolis (there were a few cringes by diehard St. Paulites) as she feels we’ve supported her from the start. We also learned that today was the drummer’s birthday, to which the crowd sang an unscripted “Happy Birthday” to the surprised drummer and band who were caught off guard. Lahey commented, “It’s that genuine Midwest politeness. It must be something in the milk.”
She also told us, “We are going to play lots of songs off my new record.” She wasn’t kidding, as they nearly played the whole thing, playing 8 of its 10 tracks. That would cause some sacrificing of popular older songs such as “I Love You Like a Brother”, which was the song that introduced me to the artist. We did hear four from her debut album of the same name, including “Awkward Exchange” and “Lotto in Reverse”, plus she banked couple for the end. “Interior Demeanor” is one of my favorites from the new album, with it’s cool guitar part at the beginning before kicking into the energetic chorus with the words of encouragement, “Give it time, give it time, give it time. You’ll be fine, you’ll be fine, you’ll be fine.”
Lahey slowed it down for the next few songs. The sweet ballad, “I Want to Live with You”, was clearly many couples’ “song” as many sang together in embrace. Then Lahey showcased her beautiful voice on a song that has deep meaning to her, “Unspoken History”. She played acoustic guitar on this, with lone support by her keyboardist, while the rest of the band took a breather. The pace picked back up with the upbeat “You Don’t Think You Like People Like Me” from her first EP, a collection of five songs called B-Grade University. This re-energized the crowd, as they danced and sang along like they meant it. My other favorite song from the new album, “Misery Guts”, was next. This one is true punk rock and even brought out some wild guitar jamming by the normally strait-laced Lahey.
The climax of the show was the top song off the new album, “Don’t Be so Hard on Yourself”, which again is a great message for all of us. Lahey played saxophone as a teenager and brought her alto sax out of retirement to play it when recording this song in the studio. Sure enough, we got full sax treatment tonight too. As a former saxophonist (the big baritone sax was my weapon), I loved it. She simply slung her electric guitar behind her back as she played into the microphone before triumphantly hoisting the golden horn in the air. Noticing the crowd really liked that song, Lahey told us, “It must be because of that local reference to Coach Bombay.” Amazingly, even on the other side of the world, folks like our Mighty Ducks, and their inspiring cach played by Emilio Estevez.
Before wrapping up the show, she continued, “You treated us well all night so we will do the same. We aren’t going to leave the stage for an encore, but just go and play the last two songs now.” These were the two hits saved from I Love You Like a Brother. The partying 21+ crowd took to heart “Every Day’s the Weekend”, to sing along to this anthem for mid-week concertgoers. And finally, the equally catchy, “I Haven’t Been Taking Care of Myself” closed out the show that fans did not want to end. To resounding applause, Lahey took a stage bow with her band and departed the platform.
The Best of Luck Club is an incredible new album by Alex Lahey, and I hope more and more fans jump on her bandwagon. She really has a knack for writing songs about simple, but important topics and feelings we all can relate to and to spin them into irresistible tunes. With her progression of local concert venues from the 7th Street Entry, to now the larger Turf Club, I would bet we may next see this talented Australian next time in the First Avenue Mainroom in the next year or so. Hopefully we are lucky enough again. Fingers crossed!
I Don’t Get Invited to Parties Anymore / Am I Doing It Right / Awkward Exchange / Black RMs / Interior Demeanour / I Want to Live with You / Unspoken History / Lotto in Reverse / You Don’t Think You Like People Like Me / Misery Guts / Don’t Be so Hard on Yourself / Every Day’s the Weekend / I Haven’t Been Taking Care of Myself.