Note to self: Make sure to check the University of Minnesota’s sports schedule before covering a show at The Varsity Theater. For those who aren’t local, The Varsity is a super cute venue (with legendary bathrooms that make you feel like you’re in a hobbit-house) situated in the heart of Dinkytown (or campus town). It’s one of my favorite venues in town due to the venue itself and the fact that parking is free if you have the patience to find street parking near all of the college housing but that becomes more difficult when there are sports ball games. That was the case on Friday night when I was hit with a double whammy of a hockey and basketball game on campus. I wasn’t ready for it and had a mild panic attack after realizing that even my fall-back parking ramp was full. I was frantic but ended up finding a spot just in case to literally run to the venue to get into the show in time.
I was still a bit frazzled as I made my way through the quickly growing crowd but as soon as opening act Kristiane jumped into her set, all of that frazzle went away. Kristiane (and her best friend on bass) opened up the quick show with an absolutely stunning set. Born and raised in Los Angeles, California, Kristiane had this very calming presence about her. Sure, you got that from her calm indie-pop styled music but it was more than that. There was just something about her being that was so soft and sweet. Even when she addressed the audience outside of her songs, there was just something so sweet and innocent about her words and the inflection of said words.
It was quite clear that the audience was there for the headlining act just with the way they responded to them when compared to Kristiane but, at the same time, it was obvious that the entire audience was in love with Kristiane. There was dead silence as she played through her soft songs other than a couple of people who sang along to her gorgeous cover of Lana Del Ray’s “Video Games”. Even between songs, the audience seemed excited to hear what Kristiane had to say. I’m not sure what the future will hold for the gorgeous songstress but I know that it’s looking bright and I expect to see her name more frequently in the near future.
Friday night’s show was one of those shows where I knew nothing about anything. I had honestly never even heard of headliner Del Water Gap prior to covering this show but that’s what made it such an exciting night for me. There was a clear sense of anticipation in the air as the stage was set for the headlining band and, as they took the stage, the once calm and silent audience broke into a mess of excitement and took to screaming the words back at the stage rather than just quietly enjoying the music.
Del Water Gap is technically a solo project from Samuel Holden Jaffe but, on Friday night, it came in the form of a full band. Jaffe really found his stride with his 2020 single, “Ode to a Conversation Stuck in Your Throat” but, judging by the way the packed audience was responding to every single song in the nearly twenty-song set, that is not his only hit. A fun fact about Del Water Gap before I get into their set, this project originally featured the now ultra-famous Maggie Rogers. She was in the band for about half a year but mutually decided with Jaffe to shift and focus more on her solo stuff. But that has nothing to do with the performance on Friday night so let’s get back to that.
Musically, all of the songs seemed to mold together for me. They each came with an infectious indie-pop beat and an undeniable sense of energy. It was that energy that had me sold on Del Water Gap. I don’t think there was a single moment where Jaffe was standing still on stage. From having headbutt battles with the other members of the band to rushing from each side of the stage, the energy that I was getting from Jaffe and the rest of his band was truly electric.
A lot of indie-pop acts will rely on banter between tracks to really connect with their audience but that was not the case with Del Water Gap. There was something so honest and raw in the presentation of the songs that he really didn’t need to banter with the audience to form that connection. I mean, don’t get me wrong, he did address the audience a couple of times throughout the show but I loved the fact that there seemed to be more connection through his music than his words between tracks. I feel like this is an element that is so important yet many musicians fall short of. I don’t know if this was on purpose or if it just shows the power of Del Water Gap’s music. Regardless, it made me a fan.
Venue: Varsity Theater
Smell-O-Meter: Nothing Notable
Average Age of the Crowd: 19
Crowd Surfers- 0
Stage Divers- 0
Mosh-ability- 1 out of 10
Amount of Beer Spilled On Me While Walking Around- 0
Broken Bones- None Noticed
Spotted Flying Through The Air- nothing
Fights- None Witnessed
Passed Out Kids- 0
Idiots Taken Out By Security – 0
How Irritated I Was With The Audience – 4 out of 10 (When a photographer is trying to get out of the photo pit, please just let them out– we aren’t trying to “take your spot”)
How Many Times I’ve Seen These Bands Before (or at least how many times I can remember)-
Del Water Gap– 0
Celebrity Sightings – None
Overall Score –7 out of 10
Show on Deck — Keep For Cheap / Social Cinema / RiGBY // Slaughter Beach, Dog / Bonny Doon (It’s a two-fer!)
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