It’s been about two years since I heard my first track by Sabrina Claudio. I was able to catch a brief glimpse of her at Coachella, but when it came to actually seeing her show for the first time, it had been a difficult affair considering she had never toured in Minneapolis.
That changed at the Varsity Theater this week when I finally got the opportunity to attend a show front to back. The show started off with a little confusion from the crowd, the posts on the website said the show began at 7:30, but the intermission music kept playing. My assumption is that an opener dropped out before show day, it’s an infrequent but also not unusual occurrence. Rarely does an artist try to fill the slot last minute, but there are some exceptions with hilarious results.
The crowd became more excited as the minutes flew by, with every flash of light or stagehand adjusting things on stage recieving whoops and hollers from the eager crowd. It wasn’t a totally packed house, but it was clear everyone in attendance was a very genuine fan. I find this experience to be far better than a packed house of indifferent audience members. Those shows can be an absolute drag, even in the music is excellent.
Sabrina sans Opener
When Sabrina took the stage a little after 8:00, the crowd was standing and did not let up until the lights came up to signal to everyone it was time to go home. Every break in the music was met with cheers of adoration or statements of support, some of which were pretty funny, but after the 25th shout out it got a little old for everyone.
As for the show, I expected a very serious and to-the-point show. I’ve been to a lot of solo acts, and many of them follow a similar formula, where there is little interaction with the crowd, and the artist sticks to their material for the most part. Given the subject matter of Sabrina’s work, I wouldn’t have been surprised in the slightest if she followed that formula. Much of her discography deals with the emotions of deep love and sadness. In other words, it’s quite serious work.
However, even though the show started off as I expected it, with Sabrina emerging from a curtain of crystals in dramatic fashion and leading off with some of her most famous work, the show took a lighthearted turn about 20 minutes in. Sabrina addressed the crowd and talked about her most recent effort, Truth Is. However, this was not just a few words about the album. It was a conversation with the audience.
A Real Conversation With The Audience
Sabrina characterized herself as an extremely solitary songwriter as someone who was actually quite shy, much to the surprise of the crowd, whom she leveled with saying, “I know, I’m basically naked here.” She explained much of her songwriting is done entirely alone and is only revealed when she records it for the first time in the studio.
Truth Is is a radical departure from this process of solitude. Sabrina explained that all drawings in the background of her most recent effort are of the people who participated in the songwriting process, something she hasn’t allowed before. And, to her own admission, she says she’s much better for it, declaring the work on her album some of her favorite.
That’s a lot of information, right? In comparison to a lot of shows I’ve attended, it is. There were multiple times where Sabrina took time to really connect with the crowd, and it was delightful. She owns a lot of comedy chops that I was not aware of at all. It felt like an authentic conversation with the audience, and I was all for it. The shouting folks were made fun of, she poked fun at her outfit and the general sultry, serious tone of her music. It was a very self-aware performance, something we could all get behind in the age of the ultra-curated Instagram star.
In The (Jazz) Club
Her musical performance was comprised of her atmospheric studio work converted and performed with a jazz combo, and she gave her band getting a heartfelt introduction in the middle of the show. It felt like a performance for an old jazz club, and her singing matched a lot of what one would hear on the album. Every song was greeted with shrieks of joy, and the more popular songs often were sung with audience accompaniment. This is especially evident in her most well-known track “Belong to You.” Her performance spanned from her first big hit “Confidently Lost” to her tracks on Truth Is, which are only weeks old.
I really enjoyed this show. I’ve attended hundreds of performances (that’s not an exaggeration), and this one stuck out to me for its authenticity. It really complimented the music that was being performed to make the audience feel something.
Sabrina has only had maybe two and a half years as a touring artist, and it shows, and it doesn’t. Her authenticity is of someone who hasn’t been in the music industry long, but she carries herself like someone that’s been here before, and it made for an excellent show. I’d highly recommend seeing her next time she rolls through Minneapolis.