August in Minnesota is a tricky thing. For the past few weeks, we have had some of the most amazing mid 70’s weather. However, peace like this can only last so long, as the Minnesota State Fair (which is THE BEST State Fair, btw) opened it’s gates, Summer cranked up the heat to 11, or 101ºF to be exact. After 12 hours of work in that heat, the air conditioning of the Cedar Cultural Center felt amazing, and the co-headlining show of Jillette Johnson and Satellite made for a great musical finale to the day.
Jillette Johnson took the Cedar Cultural Center Stage, and invited people to move up closer to the stage. It wasn’t a big crowd, but the intimate show was something special. Her soft-spoken self introduction and stage banter soon gave way to a quaint, and subtle mutter of the word ‘fuck’. The crowd responded with a laugh and we were on our way.
She sat at the keyboard and began to sing, her sound was soft, subtle, and whimsical. She draws you in and then blows you away in a crescendo of raw vocals and intense key strikes. So wild in fact, that she grazed a button that made everything stop during “Cameron”. It was something that had not happened to her in well over a year. Jillette laughed it off, jumped back in and finished in masterful fashion just as she did the song before.
The things that she talked about between songs made the night very refreshing from many acts where a times it felt like “Storytellers”, and other times it felt like you were getting a bit of information that you were not sure you should be privileged to. An example would be that from Chicago to Minneapolis, 13 bathroom breaks were taken, or that two of her songs are written about the same guy, but they are not love songs.
The audience was on the small side, but the show had a very intimate feel that accepted the stripped down sound in excellent fashion. However, if you missed the show, you have a chance next month to totally redeem yourself. On September 25th, Jillette will be joining Theo Katzman at the always amazing Varsity Theater in Dinky Town.
The co-headliner on the tour is the band Satellite. The Nashville quartet have a big sound, with lead singer Steven McMorran and his room filling vocals is reminiscent of “Kings of Leon”. However, where Jillette did great between songs and was able to connect with the audience and draw us closer, Steve seemed overwhelmed with emotion, or unable to collect his thoughts. This did not affect the music as the band was tight.
If you did not catch them at the Cedar, I know they did play a few times at the Minnesota State Fair. Hopefully you did have a chance to take in their free shows there, along with a cool beverage of choice.