Laura Jane Grace Plays Two Intimate SOLD OUT Shows at Cloudland Theater in Minneapolis


Hello, Wednesday. The mid “return to work” week for so many of us after a long holiday break. While many folks around the Twin Cities are slowly returning back to their day-to-day routine, a handful of fervent music lovers were spending their evening at the Cloudland Theater in Minneapolis as punk singer-songwriters Laura Jane Grace and Mya Byrne were in town playing not one, but two sold out shows. Quite the way to kick off the new year for fans, as the last time Grace was in town was May 1, 2022.

These two shows precede Grace’s new upcoming album Hole in My Head scheduled to be released on February 16th. 

Last night was an exciting venture out, not only due to the anticipation of the show, but because it was my first time visiting Cloudland Theater. Cloudland is a relatively new venue, so I had little expectation on what I was going to experience. In a city with no shortage of great places to see live music, there’s a lot of friendly competition in terms of venue sound, atmosphere, and vibe. 

When I arrived, I was very surprised at just how small the venue was. It had a small bar at the front, with enough room for around 75-100 people to squeeze in and stand shoulder to shoulder on the floor. 

And packing in tight is exactly what pursued not long after doors. Cloudland’s elongated GA space quickly filled up, and room to move around became a precious commodity. However, there was no shortage of incredibly friendly audience members, respectfully trying to accommodate the bathroom shuffles and newcomers continuously filing through the door.

Opening the night was local band Betty Wont. Having a self-proclaimed “twang rock and roll” sound, they certainly set the mood by playing a short, but captivating set. They were lively, charming, and a breath of fresh air in a genre that can have pretty rigid molds. 

Following Betty Wont was country punk counterpart Mya Byrne. Bryne wasted no time getting the audience moving, with a very talented band consisting entirely of fellow transgender women. Bryne had a very engaging stage presence, and her drummer and bassist were equally as entertaining to watch. 

When Bryne shared that it was their first time playing in Minneapolis, the crowd responded with a warm applause. Byrne also shared an anecdote about Lavender Country, the world’s first openly gay country band and dedicated the song “Lavender” to Patrick Haggerty. The songs that followed capped off a tremendous set.

After a twenty-minute changeover, it was time for punk icon Laura Jane Grace to take the stage, and she wasted absolutely no time setting the tone, whipping out “Pints of Guinness Make You Strong” as one of the first songs of the set. During the first break for banter, Grace told the crowd she did not have a set list for the show, and took a mix of audience requests, in addition to playing new songs and old classics.

One of the most alluring things about Grace is her rawness, humility, humor, and presence on stage. Every time I have been able to see her live, whether it be solo, with a backing band, or in Against Me!, she has always managed to connect with the audience in a way few singer-songwriters can. One of the things I noticed during this show was the group of younger looking kids standing in the front row, belting out the words to the newer songs, and the group of old die-hards in the back screaming the words to the old songs. 

It’s an incredible accomplishment to become an artist whose music spans across multiple generations of fans, and last night’s show showed that Grace is officially at that level. While sharing anecdotes, poking fun with the audience, and spinning commentary about a stage hack she learned from Billy Corgan of Smashing Pumpkins to eat potato chips as a throat coat , Grace was nothing short of entertaining and amazing to watch.

Unfortunately, I did not attend the second 10:30pm show, but I feel assured that it was just as enjoyable as the first.