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.
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.