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Julia Michaels Closes The Gap at First Avenue

Photo by – Kathleen Ambre

Before Julia Michaels took the stage at First Avenue, a sign appeared on stage stating it was a judgment-free zone. It encouraged dancing, singing, jumping, feeling and laughing. The sign was a huge hint into the vibe and energy that Michaels would bring to the show.

As her first headlining show in Minneapolis, the backdrop and stage design looked perfectly executed. Covered in glowing flowers and with a tied-in backdrop from the Inner Monologue albums, the set looked like a music video. The cartoonish flower patch and almost toy-like instruments used throughout the night provided a constant moving swirl of entertainment, choreographed dancing, and singalongs.

Julia Michaels, First Avenue, IM World Tour, All Ages, Concert, Live Music, Pop, Iowa, Inner Monologue Part 2, Dance Pop, Singer Songwriter, Nervous System
Photo by – Kathleen Ambre

JULIA MICHAELS

Opening the show with “Pink,” a song that includes no innuendos. It’s exactly what you think, Michaels had the all-ages crowd immediately singing along. Her R&B-inflected, dance-orientated pop music works perfectly with the Michaels’ own infectious energy. The second song in the set saw her band exit the stage, only to come back onstage with marching band electronic drums and two keytars. They performed her collaboration with Clean Bandit, “I Miss You.” The band then transitioned into “Make It Up To You,” with weaving choreographed moves and a flying V formation onstage.

Julia Michaels, First Avenue, IM World Tour, All Ages, Concert, Live Music, Pop, Iowa, Inner Monologue Part 2, Dance Pop, Singer Songwriter, Nervous System
Photo by – Kathleen Ambre

With the band wearing muted coordinated colors that played on the set design, it felt like a polished, clean commercial from The Gap. But that effect and feeling enhanced Michaels’ ability to engage and connect to the audience. It felt safe and was presented to the audience as an easy format to absorb.

Lyrically dense, Julia speaks about boys, anxiety, getting hurt, and avoiding failed relationships. Her music fits superbly into what we all have gone through, at any age of our lives. You feel it at the show, that there’s an authentic bond and that Julia “sees you” from that stage.

Julia Michaels, First Avenue, IM World Tour, All Ages, Concert, Live Music, Pop, Iowa, Inner Monologue Part 2, Dance Pop, Singer Songwriter, Nervous System
Photo by – Kathleen Ambre

For “Worst of Me,” Michaels requested the audience to pull out their cell phone lights. The song had the entire audience waving their cell phones in a wave of technology. The band had the audience in a classic cheer-off right before “Into You.” Julia came back on stage and lead the crowd in a clapping singalong of the chorus. “Happy” was one of my personal highlights as it’s an expertly crafted pop song. The chorus hits hard with heavy guitars, drums, and a chorus of ‘ohs’. The crowd knew all the words to the pre-chorus and being able to yell out, “I just want to be fucking happy” was fun.

“And sometimes I think I kill relationships for art
I start up all this shit to watch ’em fall apart
I pay my bills with it, I watch ’em fall apart
Then pay the price for it, I watch ’em fall apart”
Julia Michaels, First Avenue, IM World Tour, All Ages, Concert, Live Music, Pop, Iowa, Inner Monologue Part 2, Dance Pop, Singer Songwriter, Nervous System
Photo by – Kathleen Ambre
 
Julia then moved into the center of the crowd with her ukulele for a fast cover of CeeLo Greens’ “Fuck You.” “Apple” and “Falling For Boys” followed as she remained in the audience.
 
Moving back to the stage for “Priest,” her band sat on the lip of the stage and swayed back and forth. The bond that brings her music closer was shown as Julia shared that she suffers from panic attacks. She encouraged the audience to speak up about their feelings and issues, stressing that someone is listening and cares about you. Launching into “Anxiety,” it was a great transition that hit home her message.
Julia Michaels, First Avenue, IM World Tour, All Ages, Concert, Live Music, Pop, Iowa, Inner Monologue Part 2, Dance Pop, Singer Songwriter, Nervous System
Photo by – Kathleen Ambre
 
Ending with “What A Time” with opener Rhys Lewis, and then her 2017 mega-hit “Issues,” Julia Michaels danced and jumped around the stage. With two loud blasts and a shower of confetti, the show concluded at 75-minutes long.
 
It was clear to see the experience behind Julia as she’s been performing and collaborating with artists since she was 12. Being born in Davenport Iowa also adds to her authenticity. As a native Iowan myself, her tee-shirt and jeans speak heavily to her image as a humble and down-to-earth artist. There’s a Midwest-values vibe to her songs.
 
Watching the audience take the opening sign to heart was also impactful. She’s already been nominated for many awards in her short career, but having an entire crowd sing along to every song has got to be the best reimbursement of your career. Her music closes the gap between people, bringing us all together.
 
Smouse
Author: Smouse

Having spent 13 years recording and producing Minnesota artists, along with running a small record label, Smouse is a passionate advocate of musicians and artists in Minnesota.

Written by Smouse

Having spent 13 years recording and producing Minnesota artists, along with running a small record label, Smouse is a passionate advocate of musicians and artists in Minnesota.

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