The Blue Stones Are NOT A Pop Band


On a cold Thursday night in St. Paul, there was only one thing to do: make my way to the Turf Club to see the Canadian native rock duo The Blue Stones accompanied by also Canadian native alt-rocker JJ Wilde. It was immediately apparent that everyone had the same idea because as I walked in I could see that the long, dimly lit bar was full and every single table was taken. The Blue Stones came to the Turf Club as part of their HIDDEN GEMS tour, which was kicked off in January of this year. There was quite a mix of onlookers ranging from groups of friends in their young 20s, to middle-aged couples, to older aged rock enthusiasts. As the crowd stirred in anticipation, drinking and chatting, the small stage was set up and the lights began to change color. 

Just like that, JJ Wilde’s band started to take their positions. I saw her perform at 7th Street Entry back in November, and the setup was much the same as last time. A guitar player, a bassist/keyboard player, and a drummer all set up on stage before she came out, and once the music started it was like a moth being drawn to a flame and JJ came bouncing up the stairs. She brought back the same electric energy she always has and opened with her number one song on Spotify called “The Rush.” After getting the crowd warmed up, she continued to bring the heat with other upbeat, alt-rock jams like “Trouble”, “Home”, and “State of Mind.” One highlight of her performance was watching her sing “Wired” while grappling with the microphone cord around her neck. Finally, she wrapped up her set with a heartfelt message about mental health that led to her newest release, and my personal favorite, “Funeral for a Lover.” JJ’s stage presence is like no other. She commands the audience’s attention with her powerhouse of a voice and emotive expressions. As her first night as an opener for The Blue Stones, she crushed it, and I highly recommend making your way to see her in the near future. 

Once the stage was prepared with only the essentials—a mic stand and guitar for Tarek Jafar, a drum kit for Justin Tessier—all drinks were in hand, all tables were abandoned, and the crowd filled the standing section to see The Blue Stones. The lights shifted to a fitting blue hue and smoke filled the stage. The twosome kicked things off with their newest release “Shakin’ Off the Rust,” and the Turf Club was ready for them. The crowd got excited about a peek at their upcoming album with “Grim,” and classics off their 2018 Black Holes album like “Be My Fire.” But, the song that got me most excited was “The Hard Part.” The beat from Tessier’s drums kicked the strobe lights into full gear and, coupled with the smoke machine, the stage erupted into a flashing red cloud. The Blue Stones demonstrated their stylistic range with “Lay” which is one of their slower tunes. Jarek’s guitar playing lent a raw and more melodic tone to the live version of the song that really resonated with me. The two clearly have a healthy dose of beat-heavy rock and roll tracks, but “Lay” seemed to bring an emotional connection from the pair that I had not seen in other songs. 

After “Lay” finished and the cheering died down, Tessier kept the beat going and Jarek introduced what he called his favorite part of the show, storytime. With the crowd clapping along to the beat, Jarek told us all about how after releasing their EP to University radio stations there was a resounding theme amongst the comments; “You guys sound way too much like a pop band.” Everyone laughed in response, as we had just experienced about eight of their most head-banging rock songs. And as if to give one last middle finger to their critics, the two transitioned into “Little Brother” which featured a heavy-hitting drum solo from Justin Tessier. 

Overall, I left the show with half the hearing capabilities I arrived with, and while they may seem to some like a pop band, I would recommend giving them a listen because they’re sure to prove you wrong.