Waxahatchee Brings “Saint Cloud” to First Avenue


Photo credit Grandstand Media

Izzy Gravano, Arts Editor

Last Sunday, Sept. 12, First Avenue’s Mainroom welcomed indie-folk band Waxahatchee in the debut tour of their 2020 album “Saint Cloud.” 

Singer Katie Crutchfield brought the Michigan-based band Bonny Doon on tour with her in 2018. Consequently, they joined forces to record and release “Saint Cloud.” 

The album is timely for the moment we are living in; it is an exploration of life and love through hardship and the adventures of humanity. Waxahatchee — Crutchfield’s stage name, a nod to a creek in Alabama close to where she grew up — wrote the album in the early days of her sobriety. It details her struggles and newfound freedoms in the 11 tracks. 

The release of “Saint Cloud”  amidst the pandemic and subsequent delay of a physical tour have added to the weight of the music. Audiences have become familiar with Waxahatchee’s songs throughout time, but also via the resonance that self-exploration has today. Lyrical songs such as “Hell,” “St. Cloud” or “Ruby Falls” take the listener to a physical place, while some, including “Witches” and “War,”  hit on intangible feelings. The music is peaceful yet thoughtful with unique country and alternative rock musical signifiers. 

More than ever before, audiences are ready to hear about virtues such as patience and introspection — common themes in “Saint Cloud.”

In addition, excitement reverberated in the Mainroom on Sunday. Thunderous applause followed every song in the hour-long set with few breaks —  as Crutchfield and Bonny Doon played through the entirety of “Saint Cloud” in addition to supplemental tracks. The concert was wholeheartedly about the music and without distracting personalities. 

The audience had been warmed up by opener Katy Kirby, a Texas-based indie rock singer-songwriter whose music is quiet and slower than Waxahatchee’s, but akin to music in the genre. Kirby’s debut album from this year, “Cool Dry Place,” has solidified her place in the up and coming singer-songwriter music scenes.

Crutchfield has been a staple in various music communities for decades as both Waxahatchee and in other groups. She and her twin sister started the feminist punk band P.S. Eliot in 2007, and Crutchfield started going by Waxahatchee following its disbanding in 2011. Since then, she has been featured on tracks with bands such as Whitney and indie-folk musicians Kevin Morby and Bedouine. 

It was the closing of Waxahatchee’s performance that made the biggest impact on Sunday as she performed a rendition of Dolly Parton’s famed “Light of the Clear Blue Morning.” The southern and midwestern influences in the room, and in the music, could not be missed as Crutchfield belted lyrics reminding the audience that there is a better tomorrow ahead and we can go there together. Waxahatchee’s interpretation of “Light of the Clear Blue Morning” is featured on the bonus tracks to “Saint Cloud.”

Vaccinations against COVID-19 or negative tests are required for entry at all First Avenue affiliates in the Twin Cities, which include the First Avenue Mainroom & 7th St. Entry, Turf Club, Fine Line, Palace Theatre, and Fitzgerald Theater, with some discretion up to the artist. In Waxahatchee’s case, negative tests did not suffice. Masks were required. These policies did not dissuade concert goers as the performance was well-attended with all concert goers adhering to protocols, perhaps present only because of the stringent rules. 

To see what performances are coming to First Avenue venues, go to firstavenue.com.