With no shortage of entertainment options on a bitterly cold Friday night in Downtown Minneapolis, including a sold-out performance from The Suburbs right next door, about two-hundred people packed the walls of the 7th St Entry to experience a couple of incredible up-and-coming acts in a wonderfully intimate setting.
I arrived at the venue just in time to watch a skinny, long-haired man in blue overalls named Sen Morimoto to take the stage. Sen Morimoto is a multi-instrumentalist producer, composer, and songwriter from Kyoto, Japan who moved to Massachusetts at a young age and began a life-long study of jazz saxophone.
Living a life dedicated to music, Morimoto possesses a powerful grasp of jazz composition, pop songwriting, and hip-hop styling, which are fully articulated as the extraordinary sound of an unrivaled talent on Cannonball!, an LP that he wrote, recorded, and mixed by himself.
Morimoto’s multi-instrumentalist ability shined through on Friday night, using a handful of different instruments throughout the performance, most notably that jazz saxophone mentioned above, which received many cheers every time he lifted it from it’s stand. The silky smooth sounds filled the walls of The Entry, piquing the interest of every person in attendance and fixating their attention on the stage.
I even saw Lillie West, front-woman of the headlining band Lala Lala make her way out to join the crowd during Morimoto’s performance, nodding her head and bumping elbows with the fans in the crowd.
Overall it was a wonderful & pleasant performance from a musician I fully expect to become quite familiar with as he continues in this industry. Be prepared to see Sen Morimoto performing his own headlining show in The Entry, and soon enough, on the main stage.
Capping off the evening was a performance from Chicago-natives Lala Lala, led by Lillie West. Originally from London, West moved with her family to Los Angeles, where she spent her teenage years, and later to Chicago, where she enrolled at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
Inspired by those cities’ DIY music communities, West started Lala Lala as an outlet where she could process her new experiences, which often involved toxic relationships and partying around the city with beloved friends. The turbulence in West’s life throughout that period resulted in an abrasive but tender debut album, Sleepyhead.
West decided to quit drinking, and she began booking her own DIY tours across the country. Sobriety provided her with a newfound sense of self and clarity, and she began writing the songs for her sophomore album The Lamb while also starting the process of re-learning how to live her life.
That sophomore album is what brought West and her band to The Entry on Friday night, following a wonderful performance by tour-mate Sen Morimoto. There were a lot of things I enjoyed about Lala Lala’s performance, like the intimate post-punk/dream-pop sound the band has, to her delightful interactions and playful banter with the crowd in-between songs, but my favorite was something she said about halfway through the performance.
As the jam-packed 7th St Entry joined her in singing the chorus to one of the more popular songs on her sophomore album, a giant smile broke out across her face, and for a moment she lost track of the words and had to wait for the next bar to get back on track. After the song was finished she said, half giggling, “It’s hard for me to sing if I’m smiling so much!”
It was an amazingly genuine and real moment from a performer that is still so early in her journey, and was really fun to watch. The same things that I said about Sen Morimoto can be said for Lillie West and Lala Lala. This will certainly not be the last time we see her grace the stage in Minneapolis, and I look forward to watching her continue to grow and find her place in this industry.