The 2018 Noise Pop Music Festival concluded with a sold-out solo musician showcase led by Katie Crutchfield, aka Waxahatchee, at the Swedish American Hall on Sunday, February 25.
This was my first time attending a show at the Swedish American Hall. Putting the stellar musicianship aside, I was blown away by a multitude of factors. There really isn’t a bad seat in the house, and there are plenty of seats to be had. The venue sounds great, and the stage is low and close to the crowd for an especially intimate feel.
My favorite thing, however, was on display from the moment opening act Derek Ted took center stage. I need to return to see if it was a fluke, but I don’t think it was. The Swedish American Hall audience on Sunday was the quietest and most respectful crowd that I’ve been a part of. Plastic cups that hit the floor were audible over everything, and no conversation was more important than the music.
In addition to the emotionally riveting storytelling of Ted, harpist Mary Lattimore commanded the attention of the whole room for the entirety of her 25-minute set. Lattimore’s modern combination of digital delay and looping with the classical elegance of a full size harp was spellbinding. It was exciting to see the audience give the harp the room it deserved to fill the venue.
The only band that took to the stage was a three-person supporting cast behind The Head and The Heart‘s Josiah Johnson. Johnson even welcomed two different guests to the stage to assist on vocals, and he was joined by a star-studded cast throughout the set. Stage right, I couldn’t understand Johnson’s introduction here, stood a harmonica-wielding upright bassist with a soothing voice. Flanking Johnson from either side were Bay Area musicians, Chelsea Coleman and Rory Cloud.
By the time Crutchfield made her way to the stage, the crowd was a bit restless. There were four sets of music and most of them were barely 30 minutes long. Doors opened just before 7:45pm, the first act didn’t play until after 8:30, and it felt as though there was a lot of time in between sets as the clock approached midnight.
Crutchfield held the stage for about an hour, encore included, and also blew me away. She alternated between the guitar and piano, with no outside accompaniment. She sang originals, covers and even introduced a brand new song to the crowd, available over on YouTube.
Several months ago, I saw Kurt Vile and Courtney Barnett’s Sea Lice tour. That show was ultimately underwhelming. But on Sunday at the Swedish, I felt redeemed in every way. That is the best way to be redeemed too, isn’t it? When you’re not even expecting it. I look forward to catching every one of these musicians again!