Did you know that there are llamas currently at the Minnesota Zoo? If you’ve gone to a concert at the Music in the Zoo series, you certainly do. There are pictures of the cute little guys everywhere. Check them out sometime. If the ads above the urinals are correct, you’ll llove it.
So yeah, because of that, from now on I’ll always think of llamas when I think of Mason Jennings. Our homegrown hero (despite the fact that he isn’t from here, a minor quibble) played a typically solid set of folk and pop.
Expansive Electronics and Jazz
The show opened with Cedar Thoms, a.k.a. local musician Christopher Thomson. Although he calls Cedar Thoms “electronic music,” it is much more than that. Thomson plays saxophone and clarinet over various sounds and loops. As jazzy as they are electronic, his evocative songs cover a broad emotional spectrum.
Thomson played with local jack-of-all-trades Dosh, who accompanied him on drums (his signature instrument) and keys. The songs ranged from mellow, ethereal soundscapes to expansive jazz. They had the perfect balance of structure and improvisation.
A Songwriter at Sunset
There was still a good hour of daylight left when Mason Jennings took the stage. Although rain was avoided, heavy cloud cover made the pond that serves as a backdrop for shows at the Zoo seem extra gloomy.
Jennings’ set was varied and well-paced. He played fan favorites, other material from his older albums, and tracks from his latest release, 2018’s Songs from When We Met. Highlights included “Raindrops on the Kitchen Floor,” “Darkness Between the Fireflies,” and “Confidant.”
The evening included two stints with a full band and an intimate acoustic portion. Jennings switched between acoustic guitar and piano, occasionally throwing in the prerequisite singer/songwriter harmonica. His piano playing has a fun, janky, self-taught feel that gave the songs he played on the instrument a nice foundation.
I Bet Mason Jennings Loves Animals
It’s pretty cool that such a laid-back, unassuming guy like Jennings is so popular. Rarely do you see someone that so utterly lacks pretense – and gimmick – make it as far as he has. As the no-show sun set on the llamas at the Minnesota Zoo, his set made the gray, gloomy pond almost seem like it was reflecting actual moonlight.