Sitting across from Katie Toupin at The Depot Tavern, it’s easy to see the appreciation and accessibility she has to her fans. I mean, the front page of her website lists a cell phone number stating,
“You can text me. I respond. Say hi. Let’s be friends.”
As a former member of Houndmouth, Toupin has had huge immediate success and now going solo, is showcasing a new chapter in her career that keeps growing and growing. Her solo debut with Magnetic Moves made waves and the followup EP Little Heart advances her sound and position in the soul-pop genre.
Her immediate memories of playing in Minnesota come back to The Entry. That night Bon Iver was playing the main room and she was looking forward to the green room for the couch to snag a nap on. Realizing the couch was crusty and gross, she passed on the nap. Luckily, with the new stage, the venue has also replaced that couch.
Understanding the daily pace of a tour helps to understand the need for nice couches. Toupin woke up at an Airbnb in Milwaukee, drove 5 hours to load into the venue, sound check by 6pm, then a small break before their show at 10pm. She then heads back to sell merch personally until about midnight, then drive another hour to an Airbnb because it’s more affordable getting one outside of the larger cities. By 2am she’s ready to sleep and do it all over again the next day.
As a seasoned veteran of the road, there are some immediate differences in a 2021 tour. Attendance is sporadic still due to different venues having different standards. In Chicago they wouldn’t allow people to show a negative Covid test to get in, so there were 48 people that didn’t show up that had tickets. Toupin as toured for 12 years and has never experienced that. The main positive change in this tour is the people that do show up are much more engaged than before. Everybody needs this more than ever and understands it can go away at any moment.
“It’s actually be nice being out on the road because at home I’m looking on Twitter, like the world is falling apart. Then now on the road, you see people are still living, going to shows, restaurants, and life is still moving on and that’s nice.”
Toupin as been sober for 4 years and considers it a game changer. Going solo has afforded her a new way to surround herself with people she wants to be around. That positive environment is reflected in her fan base as well. Being a solo artist grants you a closer connection and appreciation to your audience. Toupin shares that everything attracts to things that are similar to those things, meaning, her music and songwriting marry closer to the fans that come see her.
In understanding the process of songwriting and the potential emotion impact of a song, Toupin shared that even though there’s a distance from when you wrote it and when it’s being performed, some songs still hold weight. “Someone To You” is still really heavy for her, but not in a sad way. The song is about getting a second change at things and having more appreciation at that go-around by leaving something that was clearly unhealthy. It still almost brings her to tears night after night.
Her performance at 7th Street Entry last night was a fruition of that desire to connect. Toupin engaged with the front row multiple times, singing directly to someone, edging along the front of the stage, and even stepping into the audience for the final song. Mixed in was a quick birthday song for someone in the audience. These moments built up into a dance party for “Shake Baby” and “Sedona”, where the crowd jovially sang along.
Toupin also calmed the crowd with her teacher voice for the softer songs “Gasoline” and “Someone To You”, each perfect moments in the electricity of the set. Her Americana cover of Blink 182’s “Adam Song” was an delightful surprise that sparked a GoFundMe just this morning with Mark Hoppus sharing a video of the performance that has already garnered 110k views.
In asking Toupin what makes you realize it was a good show, she confesses it’s about her perspective and attitude. She repeats a mantra of allowing her to be of service. If she carries that onstage without expecting anything in return, it’s going to be a good show.
“I’m giving energy. I’m not there to receive energy and that’s the way it’s going to be. That’s what I signed up for. I think people have bad shows when they’re expecting to get something back.”
You can follow or text Katie Toupin at the links below.