Katie Crutchfield, the musical mastermind behind Waxahatchee, began the first of two tour-ending, sold-out shows at Thalia Hall by sharing her love of the City of Chicago.
“Chicago, how you doing? I’m sure you hear this all the time but we love it here,” she said at the start of the Feb. 20 performance, explaining that the city is the best place to play live music.
Saint Cloud, the latest album from Waxahatchee, dropped on March 27, 2020. At that time, touring was, of course, out of the question due to COVID so this 2022 winter trek was the first opportunity for many fans to experience the soul-nourishing songs in a proper headlining concert – though Crutchfield did dazzle during a mid-afternoon set at the Pitchfork Music Festival last summer. From “Oxbow” to the album-closing title track, Crutchfield and her talented band – Eric Slick (drums), Eliana Athayde (bass), Bobby Colombo (guitar/keys), Bill Lennox (guitar) – conjured the sights and sounds of the spring season through the rejuvenating power of music.
“We’re going to make up for lost time tonight,” Crutchfield said before starting the strums of “The Eye.”
Saint Cloud was celebrated throughout the night. Defiant optimism floated through the crowd on “Can’t Do Much” while “Fire” provided a blueprint for living a truer existence. “Lilacs” – dedicated to tour opener Madi Diaz – brought the entire venue together with its irresistible cadence and imagery.
“You guys are good singers,” Crutchfield said complimenting fans on nailing the high notes.
The melodies of the night, so effortless and pleasant, had a transformational power that was amplified to the hundredth degree when Crutchfield put down her guitar to sing “Peace and Quiet” from 2013’s Cerulean Salt. Powerful doesn’t begin to define the gravitational pull of her stage presence in this moment.
Later, Crutchfield once again exposed her heart with a breathtaking cover of “Fruits of My Labor” by her “favorite songwriter, Ms. Lucinda Williams.” At one point her voice barely cracked, as only it can when one is singing a song they love with unabashed emotion and clarity. This passing moment of vulnerable humanity further exemplified the healing nature of music and its power to turn pain into beauty, two things Waxahatchee has illustrated since the very beginning of Crutchfield’s musical journey.
Earlier in the night, Diaz took the crowd through the stages of grief with humor, humility, and a collection of compelling songs including “Woman In My Heart,” “Nervous,” and “Do It Now.”
“Crazy what a couple of broken eggs will inspire,” she said with a smile after singing “Crying in Public.” “Something tells me something else was going on there.”
Waxahatchee is set to close out her tour with another sold-out show at Thalia Hall tonight (Feb. 21) and Madi Diaz will headline Space in Evanston on Tuesday, Feb. 22. More information can be found at Waxahatchee.com.