An Intimate Evening with Juliana Hatfield


Photos by John Oakes

Words by Marki Anderson

On Monday night, Juliana Hatfield played St. Paul’s Turf Club, with an opening set from On Being an Angel. With Juliana from Boston and On Being an Angel based in Austin, Texas, this was the fifth stop in their Fall 2023 Midwest Tour. In this unique setup, On Being an Angel played as a duo, compared to their normal full band, and Juliana played solo. The tour teased upcoming releases for both artists. On Being an Angel has a vinyl album called Playing It Cool with 2 tracks on pre-order now from American Laundromat Records, being released November 3, 2023. Juliana Hatfield has a new cover album, Juliana Hatfield Sings ELO, also coming out next month on November 17, 2023. The Twin Cities last saw both artists in December 2022 while playing together on the same tour. Juliana was with The Lemonheads and On Being an Angel opened for the ‘It’s a Shame About Ray’ 30th Anniversary Tour at First Avenue. The crowd was sparse when the doors opened, but the venue quickly filled as Juliana’s set time approached. 

The chill air, crisp tater tots, and purple and orange lights of the stage made it truly feel like a fall night. DJ Jake Rudh started the evening with a unique set. All the songs had accompanying music videos projected on a screen covering the stage. Something felt tangible about the images moving across the screen, and the set flowed easily with the indie rock feel of the evening.

On Being an Angel took the stage, and I quickly realized they had been sitting at the table next to us. When Paige, the lead singer, mentioned how the cool Minnesota evenings had been feeling very cold compared to where she is from in Texas, their family member remaining at the table nodded in confirmation. I saw their phone out several times taking videos, and it made the performance even more special knowing they had personalized love and support there. There was a minor guitar hiccup where Nick grabbed Juliana’s pink guitar to finish the set, but it didn’t deter too much from the blurry electric guitar music.

Then Juliana took the stage with no introduction needed. She got right to it opening with “Dancin’ ‘Round and ‘Round” off her Olivia Newton-John cover album. It took a few songs of her tweaking her guitar to get a sound she was satisfied with. She lovingly said, “Having someone else play my guitar is like someone else wearing my bathing suit.” She played a variety from her long career including “I Don’t Know What to do with My Hands” from her time in Minor Alps, “Bluebird is Dead” from her upcoming ELO cover album, and the classic “My Sister.” She wrapped up the night with “Nirvana” off Hey Babe.

Juliana engaged the crowd with a recap of her last few stops in the Twin Cities, and she even threw out the words “Vikings” and “Twins” as she had heard fellow travelers discussing these groups in the hotel elevator, which made her a relatable sportsball girl. The intimate venue and the annotations she provided between songs felt like I could see a personal side to her as the artist. I definitely want to see her with her full band. Her voice is unique (and from what I hear, is what she is known for) in how it can depict a depth of sadness only maturity can truly understand yet be sweet and peaceful at the same time.

Walking into the show, I had never heard of either artist before. That was some of the appeal of writing this review. It is a true first impression. There isn’t much music I don’t enjoy, and it is always fun to discover new artists you just haven’t run across before. For me, the ultimate marker of success is if I add any songs to a playlist. After doing a thorough deep dive after the show, am I going to spend more time with the music? I deem this night a win with the following songs now on my playlists: “You Say” from On Being an Angle and “Dancin’ ‘Round and ‘Round,” “Everybody Loves Me But You,” “Hang Down from Heaven” (which she didn’t play, but I discovered through my deep dive) from Juliana.