Show Review: Nicki Minaj @ Climate Pledge Arena

March 10th, Award-winning rapper and hip-hop sensation Nicki Minaj electrified Seattle’s Climate Pledge Arena with her Pink Friday 2 Tour, marking her first performance in the city since 2012. The sold-out show transformed the arena into a vibrant sea of pink, with fans decked out in the tour’s signature color, celebrating Minaj’s triumphant return.

Nicki Minaj, a frequent nominee and winner at prestigious award shows like the AMAs, BET Awards, ASCAP Awards, Grammys, Billboard Awards, and People’s Choice Awards, continues to dominate the music scene. Her 2023 album, ‘Pink Friday 2’, has been a massive success, and the Barbz (Minaj’s loyal fans) were thrilled to hear many of its tracks featured in the night’s setlist, alongside her greatest hits from over the years.

The Pink Friday 2 Tour is an ambitious 56-date world tour, with numerous shows already sold out, highlighting Minaj’s global appeal. The evening kicked off with a DJ spinning a mix of modern and old-school jams, setting the mood with dance-offs on the main floor. Even the Backstreet Boys made it onto the playlist, ensuring there was something for everyone, including those less familiar with Minaj’s music.

The stage setup was nothing short of spectacular, featuring a massive three-level structure and a runway extending three-quarters the length of the main floor. The lighting, drenched in shades of pink, blue, and red, added to the vibrant atmosphere.

Minaj made a dazzling entrance in a figure-hugging glittery dress with a dramatic train, which she soon swapped for a stunning bodysuit paired with matching glitter boots. Throughout the performance, she was accompanied by energetic dancers who kept the crowd’s energy levels sky-high.

Engaging with the audience, Minaj frequently strutted and danced along the runway, bringing herself closer to the fans who danced and sang along with hands raised high. The setlist was an impressive 35-song marathon, featuring a break during which artists Monica and Tyga took the stage, performing six and five songs respectively, giving Minaj a well-deserved breather.

As the show drew to a close, Minaj paused to express her gratitude to the Seattle crowd, saying, “Seattle, you were everything I dreamed.” Her heartfelt words were the perfect ending to a night filled with unforgettable performances and a palpable sense of excitement.

Seattle Setlist:

Set 1:
Gag City (Song played from tape)
I’m the Best
Barbie Dangerous
FTCU
Beep Beep
Hard White
Press Play
Win Again
We Go Up
Big Difference
Pink Birthday
Feeling Myself
Favorite
Cowgirl
RNB
High School
Needle
Ganja Burn (video interlude)
Chun-Li
Red Ruby Da Sleeze
Forward From Trini / Black Barbies
Barbie World (Nicki Minaj & Ice Spice with Aqua cover)
Roman’s Revenge
Monster (Kanye West cover)
Are You Gone Already (video interlude)
Fallin 4 U
Right Thru Me
Save Me
Here I Am
Let Me Calm Down
Nicki Hendrix

Set 2:
Super Freaky Girl
Anaconda
Pink Friday Girls
Super Bass
Play Video
The Night Is Still Young
Moment 4 Life
Starships

Encore:
Everybody

Review: Grace Potter & Brittney Spencer @ the Showbox

Grace Potter & Brittney Spencer @ the Showbox – 3/1/24
Review by Bailey Ludlum

March 1st was a typical Friday night for most people in Seattle, but for everyone in attendance at the Showbox at the Market, March 1st came to be known as ‘Grace Day.’ The audience may have thought they knew what they were in for, but they had no idea. 

With electric performances from start to finish, Brittney Spencer kicked off the night by introducing the crowd to her debut album My Stupid Life. As soon as Brittney was on stage, it was like watching a comic book debut (like New Mutants #98, for my nerds) in real life – the moment she appeared, you couldn’t imagine the storyline without her. And when I say from the moment Brittney was on stage, I mean the moment she was on stage the front row already had their hands up and clapping. She barely made it a few songs in before the lighters were in the air; with songs like ‘I Got Time’ that celebrate new love, ‘Bigger Than the Song’, a tribute to the inspirations that got her here (and whose ranks she will join one day soon), and the hell-yes anthem ‘First Car Feeling,’ she had the crowd swaying in the palm of her hand. 

Grace Potter – photo by Kirk Stauffer


Brittney Spencer is music’s newest alchemist, spinning gold by tapping into that coveted, elusive formula of blending the sounds and feelings of the music we grew up to with her own soulful and authentic style in a way that feels new, yet familiar at the same time; from the lovesick songs to the Friday night party tracks to the girl power anthems – it’s the kind of music that you will listen to for decades and share with the next generation.  

Some say ‘game recognize game,’ and there couldn’t be a more perfect example than the story of how Brittney Spencer and Grace Potter met in a hot tub and immediately knew they would not only be friends, but also go on tour together. And this ain’t just any ol’ buddy comedy when it comes to these two ladies – no way, with Brittney ridin’ shotgun and Grace in the driver’s seat, it’s more like Thelma and Louise – two badass women putting the pedal to the medal and making a getaway with guitars instead of cars. 

Brittney joined Grace for only five shows on her Mother Road tour – Seattle was fortunate to be one of the stops, because Brittney Spencer and Grace Potter truly are a match made in musical heaven. Not only is there a palpable deep mutual respect between the two artists, but there is also a special vibe you can feel in their music; maybe it’s partly the fact that Jordan West played drums and kept the rhythm for both their acts (!), or maybe it was when Grace pulled Brittney back on stage to duet ‘Little Hitchhiker’ from Mother Road and ‘Reaching Out’, one of Grace’s favorite songs from My Stupid Life; or when she pointed out that Brittney chose an excellent name for her debut album (everyone in attendance agreed). Many of us – GP included – knew that we were witnessing a star on the rise, and when she is playing sold-out stadiums someday soon, we will get to say we saw her up-close and personal in an intimate venue before she became a supernova.

With a healthy mix of new cuts from Mother Road – such as ‘Lady Vagabond,’ ‘Ready Set Go,’ and ‘Good Time’ – and songs from days past with the Nocturnals like ‘The Lion the Beast the Beat,’ ‘Treat Me Right,’ an absolutely killer cover of Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Gold Dust Woman,’ and show-closer ‘Paris (Ohh La La)’, GP picked up where Brittney left off and drove the show like she stole it. 


You don’t have to know GP’s musical history – the numerous iconic artists she has worked with, the number of Grammys she has been nominated for (and won), the globe-trotting tours she has embarked upon – to know that she is something special when you see her perform under a spotlight. Just knowing that she is a former Seattle resident (all the good ones are) is enough to know that she is a real one, but when she gets on stage… damn, does she proves it.


First off, you don’t just see Grace Potter on stage – you feel her on stage. The moment she has a guitar in her hands or gets her fingers on some keys the energy in the room lifts and takes off with her music, and you know you’re cruisin’ with a skipper that has done this road trip many times before. In more ways than one, Grace reminds you of other groundbreaking artists – Stevie Nicks and Sheryl Crow come to mind, with their natural talent as songwriters and the way they expertly use their voices as an extension of their music – she is a force of her own nature. Absolutely bursting with charisma, swagger, and stage presence, Grace has the easy, care-free vibe of someone that knows she belongs in front of a crowd because she’s damn good at it. With stories that are as equally hilarious as they are interesting, a wardrobe that is as sly and confident as her sense of humor, boundless energy and seemingly endless musical talent, GP has assumed her throne as the new queen of the sonic road trip. If you find yourself on the Mother Road and there is a stop with Grace Potter’s name on it, do not miss that exit.

Show Review: Natalia Lafourcade @ WAMU Theater

Natalia Lafourcade @ WAMU Theater – 12/8/23
Review by Bailey Badlum

Natalia Lafourcade

The night Natalia Lafourcade graced WAMU Theater with her ethereal presence was a night none will soon forget. Seattle was the final stop of her ‘De Todas Las Flores’ 2023 tour, but the real tour on display was not the traversal of miles or destinations reached by the artists on stage – no, the true tour was the audial journey, guided by Natalia and her spectacular ensemble from roots to wingtips of Latin American music: the strumming of culture and traditions from Mexico and Central America, the rhythms of the Caribbean, and the melodies of South America – Latin folk and jazz, son jarocho, cumbia, bossa nova, tango, bolero, just to name a few styles they touched. Presented as a unique and special experience at WAMU, the normally wide-open venue was transformed into an intimate, seated setting that was perfect for immersing the audience in an artful, profound musical space.


The night’s journey began in the first realm, that of her newest album ‘De Todas Las Flores’ – a beautiful musical diary that honors the experiences of life and celebrates the inner garden within each of us. Needing no opening act, the crowd was buzzing and positively erupted when Natalia joined her counterparts on a darkened stage; her petite frame heavily encumbered by a massive black dress as she slowly made her way to a small, humble chair with microphone and a couple classical acoustic guitars. The main light source was the lamp on the table next to her, lending even more raw energy to the intimacy of the moment; every detail had an artistic, deeper meaning below the surface: from her long, untamed hair, to the antiqued furniture, to the gargantuan dress that covered nearly the entirety of the stage (!!) – there was abundance of passion and poetic flair. Natalia herself was basically ‘rooted’ in place, like a tree in the center of a musical ecosystem.


By the time she and her stellar cast of accompanying musicians opened up her musical diary with ‘Vine Solita’, the tone for this realm had already been set: lose yourself in the beauty of nature, find your indigenous ties to the earth, explore love and heartbreak, and learn life lessons from death. They played nearly the entire album, all the while interweaving traditional folklore and mystical tales with beautiful sets such as ‘De todas las flores’, ‘Pasan los dias’, ‘Llevame viento’, ‘Pajarito colibri’, and ‘Caminar bonito’. Finally (and fittingly), she chose to end this realm with the song ‘Muerte’, where she literally shed the mortal coil of her dress – chaining her in place to the stage – and joyfully danced onstage as she broke free of the burden, dying to be reborn.


After a brief intermission and wardrobe change, Natalia returned to the stage with fresh energy and life and thus guided us all into the next realm – the realm of Latin Grammy award-winning hits! Her passionate fans had already been singing/crying along and occasionally dancing in the aisles, but now it was time to unleash and let loose – this was the realm of life and celebration, after all. After playing original songs in the first act, Natalia showed love to her home state with ‘Veracruz’, a song recorded in 2017 after it was devastated by a massive earthquake. She shared her gift for interpreting traditional songs in ‘Cien Anos’ and ‘La Llorona’ before her supporting cast of incredible musicians took their own spotlights and dazzled the audience with solos and duets in ‘Ya no vivo por vivir’, ‘Tu me acostumbraste’, and ‘Soledad y el mar’. Finally, it was time to bring the journey home with the bangers: ‘Hasta la raiz’, ‘Nunca es suficiente’, and ‘Tu si sabes quererme’.

Natalia and the rest of her spectacular cast received a huge ovation from the crowd, and proudly waved a Mexican flag provided by a fan onstage as everyone celebrated the end of an amazing tour. ‘De Todas Las Flores’ was awarded the Latin Grammy for Best Album during their time on the road, only the latest in a string of accolades and accomplishments. Since her breakthrough in 2015 with ‘Hasta La Raiz’, Natalia Lafourcade has become a force for blending contemporary with cultural and bridging the gap between modern sound and traditional technique. Her recorded music — from covers to original material — is a beautiful blend of poetry, meditations, and insightful musings. The warmth and energy flowing through her live music was like listening to a vinyl album, and when combined with the raw power and purity of her voice, she creates a sound that must be appreciated live. Natalia Lafourcade has covered and created music that will outlive everyone that heard her sing at WAMU Theater that night, because she is an irreplaceable piece of the past, present, and future of Latin American music.

Cool Cover: Locusts and Honey’s Teach me to live that I dread the grave as little as my bed

Artist: Locusts and Honey
Album:  Teach me to live that I dread the grave as little as my bed
Details: The swirls of fire in black and white really stick out on this cover. I also like the melting aspect around the skull. I don’t know who the artist is, but very nice work.

Cover art for Locust and Honey’s Teach me to live that I dread the grave as little as my bed