Waxahatchee / Allison Crutchfield / Sam Cook-Parrot / Anamai The Great Hall, Toronto ON, November 4
Published Nov 05, 2014It's a testament to the sisterly bond between Allison and Katie Crutchfield that even on a tour billed as a Waxahatchee solo jaunt, the twin singers shared the stage for a good portion of the evening. In fact, it wasn't until the encore that Katie took the stage entirely alone, though it's hard to complain about any of the musicians sharing the spotlight.
Toronto's Anamai opened on a dark stage to a mostly empty room, but was followed by Crutchfield collaborator Sam Cook-Parrot, who livened things up a bit. Armed with a flannel shirt and an acoustic guitar, the Radiator Hospital bandleader performed solo to an audience that seemed appreciative of his blend of simple, folky guitar work and ability to belt out vocals.
Parrot returned to the spotlight for Allison's slot, during which the duo performed tracks off her Lean To It album from this past summer. With Crutchfield on a Casio keyboard and Parrot on bass, they delivered a surprisingly upbeat set that embraced an electro vibe different than anything we're used to from Crutchfield's work with Swearin' or P.S. Eliot.
But it was Allison's sister's night to shine, and while she shared the spotlight, Katie was definitely the highlight of the evening. Accompanied by her guitarist beau Keith Spencer, the pair opened with a track from their Great Thunder project before running through a set of Waxahatchee material, including a handful of new songs from an already-recorded third album.
Cerulean Salt cuts like "Swan Dive," "Dixie Cups and Jars" and a fuzzed-out, loudest-moment-of-the-night rendition of "You're Damaged" all made the setlist, while oldies from American Weekend best showcased Katie's ability to connect with an audience. There's something unsettling about hearing songs as vulnerable as "Bathtub" and "I Think I Love You" performed in a room full of strangers, but Katie's voice failed to waver in the public setting, sounding as perfectly raw and personal as it does on the recording.
And despite the lo-fi aesthetic of much of her music and the minimalist stage setup, Katie's voice is truly remarkable live. Acknowledging her still-developing piano skills on a couple of new songs, she was able to laugh off minor fumbles on the keys, though there was no need for any technical apologies at any other point. Allison even joined her sister for "Blue Pt. II" and some of the new material, treating concertgoers to gorgeous harmonies and turning the evening into an organic collaborative affair.
Katie finally went fully solo for the encore, ultimately giving the crowd the intimate performance they'd been promised. Closing with "Tangled Envisioning," the Waxahatchee singer capped off an excellent set that had fans enraptured throughout, and left them emotionally exhausted by the end.