Live music doesn’t take place in a vacuum. A venue can cause a show to be leveled up or down in significant ways.
At the best shows, venues complement a bands strengths, which adds to that “you had to be there” feeling. The acoustics of a venue can better suit the music. The size or layout of the venue can allow for certain production elements to flourish. There are endless ways that a venue can compliment or detract from a performance, but it’s undeniably important.
On Friday night, Minneapolis saw the perfect combination of artist and venue: beloved Minneapolis indie band Cloud Cult and the immaculate gem that is Orchestra Hall.
Orchestra Hall is obviously more known for its classical performances than pop and rock shows, but when they do venture into that territory the results rarely disappoint.
Friday’s show was no exception. Cloud Cult, in collaboration with the Sarah Hicks-conducted Minnesota Orchestra, put on an emotionally rich two-set show. They complimented each other well.
Even if music weren’t a piece of the equation, Orchestra Hall is an incredible space, with a modern lobby and remarkable hall that features its distinctive large cubes lining the wall behind the stage. Watching music there is remarkable.
For this show, Cloud Cult took advantage of the large space by playing their emotionally and sonically dynamic indie rock. The music was weighty, often dealing in heavy themes (life, death, and family), themes that were accentuated by the dynamic sonics and musicality of the group.
The music was big, and this big-ness and relative directness of the songs worked in conjunction with the room to create an incredible experience.
Adding to all of this, of course, was the presence of the orchestra. While many in the audience would have likely been happy to see one of their favorite bands in any setting, especially given their sparse recent recorded output and performance schedule, getting to see Cloud Cult backed by a full orchestra was a huge treat.
As is the case with the best orchestra/pop collaborations, they accentuated the strengths of the band, with huge swells on the big rock numbers and tasteful flourishes on the softer ones. Those combinations of sound, setting, and songs made for a moving experience.
You’d expect in an orchestra hall that attendees would attentively watch and listen from their seats, but there were several moments where those in the crowd couldn’t help but get lost in the swells of the band and orchestra.
In certain settings, that would bother some, but for this show, it reflected a strong connection to the musical experience happening in front of them. Even among those who remained more restrained, there was a palpable sense that this was an impactful musical experience