Arts and Culture

Lizzo, Cloud Cult bring memorable music to Madison

This month, two acts on opposite ends of the spectrum brought a back-to-back weekend of Minnesota talent

Who Runs the World? (Girls)
Hail to the queen. As of last Friday, I have joined the church of Lizzo. If it's anything like the crowd at the Majestic on February 19, the congregation will be made up of all walks of womankind.

The show opened with local act ME eN YOU, a band that fuses sing-a-long 60s soft-rock with spoken word. The follow-up act, Cavanaugh, was a collaboration between hip-hop artists Mike Eagle and Serengeti. Their lyrics were infused with humor. Case and point: Serengeti's refrain "First kid at 30, second kid at 30, third kid at 30, fourth kid at 31; I have fun." Meanwhile, Mike Eagle's family-focused number brought home the heart. Lyrics about fatherhood rounded out the set. A fun pair of performers to see together.

For the proper hype, DJ Sophie Eris brought girl-power hip-hop hits, from Beyonce's "Formantion" to M.I.A.'s "Bad Girls" to Missy Elliot's "WTF (Where They From)", it was the proper way to precede this performer. Lizzo, in a cape-like jacket and a leotard, stomped out with synchronized backup dancers and proceeded to whip the crowd into frenzy with "Ain't I". My boyfriend (and constant plus-one) leaned over and said "I've never seen this many women at a show before." 

Hallelujah! In a crowd with a female majority, I was surrounded by swaying, cheering, vibing concert-goers who brought that rare type of energy that even catches the performer off-guard. "Thank you for your energy, Madison! I need it tonight." Lizzo exclaimed, catching her breath from fierce choreography. We asked her for a great show and she gave us one. She has the powerhouse pipes of Jennifer Hudson and the rap flow of Missy Elliot. It was the kind of concert that came with an afterglow; that lingering, buoyant boost after one awesome night.

Stray highlights:
-One backup dancer twirled her ponytail for two minutes straight.
-A fan constantly blew Lizzo's hair like a supermodel.
-Lizzo busted out a flute solo. Just because she can.

Live Music, Live Art
The following night, I caught Duluth chamber-pop band Cloud Cult at the Barrymore. After years together, they have live performances down pat. The key element that makes their shows memorable? Live painting. As six musicians started with an anthemic opening number, a pair of artists began spinning two white canvasses. Over the course of the show, they each painted a piece, turning the canvas on its axis to reach different portions of the frame. Hers was yellow abstraction, his became a stunning fox. When I left the show, the paintings were being auctioned off for more than $1000 a piece, with the proceeds going to environmental sustainability. 

The music ebbed and flowed between anthems from their latest release, The Seeker, along with touching slow moments, like the song Minowa dedicated to his grandfather. 

Cloud Cult's sound is big for a reason. The musicians were instrument-swapping constantly. The cellist whipped out a mandolin; the keyboardist pulled out a trumpet; the guitarist suddenly had a trombone. Surprise! 

It was a decidedly different vibe than my previous concert. More standing in reverence, fewer hands in the air waving like they just don't care. The poetry of their lyricism, versatility of instrumentation and sheer togetherness as a band showed how they came to Madison with an earnest connection to share with the crowd.

Madison's Music Forecast
March 5: Damsel Trash CD Release Party at the Frequency
March 10: Lily and Madeleine at the Frequency
March 12: Hippie Sabotage at Majestic
March 19: BandSwap: Old Soul Society, Josh Harty, Sarah Lou Richards at High Noon Saloon
March 30: Le1f at The Frequency 


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