It was an uncharacteristically quiet night at First Avenue on Tuesday. With the main room closed for a private event, and bitterly cold temperatures keeping The Depot mostly barren, only the most dedicated and loyal fans made the trek to The Entry, yearning for the warm embrace and the soothing sounds of that night’s performers.
Up first was Stelth Ulvang, a self-taught multi-instrumentalist, spirited poet, and composer of vulnerable, honest, and rich music. Stelth began his career by co-founding a band known as The Dovekins, but is most well known for his time as the touring pianist for The Lumineers.
Performing for around forty-five minutes, Stelth took us on a journey through his personal catalog of music, stopping along the way to give us a glimpse into the inspiration of each song. Enlightening us with some insight and backstory into each of the songs he performed, it was a great ‘behind-the-scenes’ look into his life and journey through it.
Although most of the inspirations and subject matters of the songs were a bit of a bummer, Stelth kept the performance relatively light, offering great comedic timing and playful banter when the moment presented itself. Joining him on stage was another incredibly talented multi-instrumentalist, and his girlfriend, Dorota Szuta.
Dorota took over the microphone and sang a few tunes, but what impressed me most was that she had a different instrument in her hand for almost every song. The ability to make two people sound like an entire band is something few groups have excelled at, but it is something these two have absolutely perfected.
Headlining the bill was internationally acclaimed multi-instrumentalist and singer-songwriter Laura Gibson. Laura was born and raised in the small Oregon logging town of Coquille, and released her debut album, If You Come To Greet Me, in 2006.
With support from both Stelth & Dorota, Laura played for over an hour, beginning with a performance of her latest album, Goners, in its entirety. Similar to her opener, Laura possesses great comedic timing and a willingness to involve her fans, talking to them in between songs and learning a bit about them individually.
About fifteen or twenty minutes into the set, Laura mentioned that they had an off-night the prior day and decided to experience South Dakota, a state in which she had still yet to stop during her years of touring. The town they stayed in was Mitchell, South Dakota, which just so happened to be the hometown of an eager fan, standing right at center stage. The two of them spent a few minutes laughing and pointing out familiar landmarks, such as The Corn Palace, much to the delight of the rest of the crowd.
After wrapping up the performance of Goners, Stelth & Dorota briefly left the stage so Laura could perform a couple of songs by herself. Left with nothing but her guitar and her voice, Laura sang softly to the, by then, sizable crowd at The Entry. Her performance was a pleasant change of pace from the abrasive and hard-hitting sounds that normally echo throughout the storied walls.
After her show wrapped up, Laura walked off stage and joined some of her fans over by the merch table, gleefully sharing stories and taking pictures with her fans. It was an intimate and memorable night for everyone in attendance, and a performance I was thankful to have been invited to witness.