Shows are slowly but surely coming back to life up here in the Twin Cities and I could not be happier. I’ll admit, my show choice for Saturday night was not my normal cup of tea but it was a show and, as I always say, I’ll take what I can get so after a quick dinner and some drinks with some good friends that I just don’t see as much as I wish I did, we made our way through the snowy streets of the Twin Cities and landed at the beautiful Palace Theatre in Saint Paul just in time for the show.
Opening act Cassandra Jenkins took the stage as soon as my friends and I made our way to my “special spot” and jumped right into her quick opening set. Hailing from New York, this beautiful songstress didn’t wait long to call out the elephant in the room. She was a last-minute replacement for Julia Jacklin who sadly couldn’t make it on the tour and was quick to apologize to the crowd for Julia not being able to make it and for her starting off the Saturday night with a very chill and almost somber acoustic-based singer-songwriter set. Although her music was definitely a bit calmer than I wanted for my Saturday night, the combination of her self-awareness and pure beauty had me sold. Gracing the stage for only thirty minutes, she seemed to have the majority of the crowd captivated in a beautiful way with each song being followed by polite applause and a few hoots and hollers. Although overall not quite my thing, I did find myself listening to the beautiful words that rang over her both acoustic and electric guitar playing, and I couldn’t help but fall in love a little bit more with every word she sang. I feel for Cassandra having to step in last minute for a different opener but definitely think she was able to hold her own and I hope being on this tour with the one and only Courtney Barnett will help get some much-deserved attention on her beautiful sound.
Unfortunately our photographer was still stuck in traffic when Cassandra’s set ended.
Headlining the Saturday night show was the one and only Courtney Barnett. Don’t know her name? Honestly, I’m not surprised. She’s not a household name yet but it’s honestly just a matter of time and the fact that she was playing to a packed Palace Theatre is proof of that. The first time I saw Courtney Barnett was back in 2016 at The First Avenue Mainroom and, although she isn’t my normal type of music, there was something that kept me coming back to her shows over the year. That being said, her set on Saturday night was definitely my favorite set from her thus far. Hailing from Australia, Courtney Barnett has a very cool vibe about her. The second she took the stage my friend turned to me and just said “She is so cool!”. Honestly, at any other show, this would have been scoffed off as a drunken remark but honestly, there’s no other way to put it. Courtney came off as genuine and honest the second she took the stage with her marvelous band and that vibe never faltered. There was never a point in her set where it felt like she was trying too hard to be something she wasn’t or to be a “rock star”. Instead, every lyric and interaction with the crowd felt completely genuine and just heart-warming.
Although Courtney’s sound could be put into the singer-songwriter box, there’s something just a bit edgier about her sound and compositions than other artists in that box. A mix of classic acoustic vibes and a more jam-band-like guitar style, every song brought a different vibe to the Palace on Saturday night which made her set fly by in the blink of an eye. You didn’t know what the next song in her set was going to bring but it didn’t matter… everyone’s eyes were glued to that stage and their ears stuck on the speakers. Much like during Cassandra’s opening set, the entire audience seemed to be caught in a trance by Courtney’s performance only breaking for loud applause between each song. I sadly can’t tell you what songs she played as I am not familiar enough with Courtney’s discography but I can tell you that every song seemed to be a favorite of the crowd and the flow between tracks was absolutely perfect.
There was an undeniable sense of admiration that floated from the audience to the stage and then back to the audience. I don’t quite know how else to describe it but there just seemed to be an overall vibe of thankfulness throughout the set that went both ways. Courtney was clearly grateful for everyone that came out to her show especially given the unprecedented times we find ourselves in and the concert-goers were clearly appreciative to have the chance to witness Courtney’s genius live.
Was Saturday night’s show my typical concert? Absolutely not. There was no mosh pit to watch and no crowd surfers to avoid but honestly, it was perfect. Am I going soft in my old age? It’s possible but who cares. I had a great time on Saturday night and am already anxiously awaiting Courtney Barnett to announce another show up here.