November 2, 2010
Pantages Theatre, Minneapolis
You've heard Sara Bareilles before. Her outrageously catchy pop songs have been playing on radio stations since her 2007 hit single "Love Song." You can go ahead and make a valiant effort to avoid singing along to her powerful voice, but she's got you following her lead by the second verse. She is the singer-songwriter with the resonating talent that isn't as easy to dismiss as other names from the Billboard Pop 100. But you probably already knew that.
[jump] What you probably don't know about Sara Bareilles, and probably would never know about her unless you saw her live, is that she's really, really funny. Starting the show with the energetic crowd-pleaser "Vegas" and marching straight through the first few songs standing up at her bright blue piano, she showed off that sly smile and sass that makes her utterly relatable.
"It can go two ways when you swear in front of a crowd of strangers," Bareilles said after a comment she made about "putting the bullshit behind you." "They'll either hate you or like you more... and you guys have cheered me on every time!"
Indeed, the audience seemed to belong to Bareilles. "I need you all to clap through the chorus on this one, okay?" Bareilles told them, prepping them for a joyful tune. "I need you to clap through the chorus, and this is an easy song to get behind because it's about how people should mind their own business!" She flashed a cheeky grin, and the audience was all too happy to comply with her request.
More than just giving everyone a feel-good show, Bareilles seemed sassily determined to break those pop-girl stereotypes as strutted around in menswear-inspired trousers and suspenders and sprinkled her performance with a feisty attitude. Not halfway through her set, Bareilles abandoned her piano and took up her guitar.
"All right, enough of the slow stuff," Bareilles offered the crowd, to scattered cheers. "Well, that was a lukewarm welcome," said Bareilles, cocking an eyebrow as she plugged in her guitar. "But that's okay, 'cause you know who's in charge? This bitch right here," she announced, gesturing to herself, and the audience erupted in laughter and applause.
One of the most delightful moments of the night came as Bareilles told the audience about watching her seven-year-old younger sister grow up and experience the world. "I kind of want to challenge those fairytale stereotypes," said Bareilles, a pretty smirk on her face. "This next song is about how I think princesses can save themselves." With that, she broke into her spunky song "Fairytale"--a tribute to the girl who doesn't just want "the next best thing."
Bareilles was joined on stage throughout the night by Holly Conlan and Cary Brothers, her two openers, and when she closed the night with an encore, she waited for all the members of her band to join her at the front of the stage, where they linked hands and took a bow. If the crowd loved her performance, it was because Bareilles loved playing to them--and if that huge Cheshire grin was any indication, it won't be the last time she's winning hearts in Minneapolis.
Personal bias: I fully admit to having a weakness for girl-rock and power pop. I'm predisposed to like Sara Bareilles just because I think she's awesome.
The crowd: Ran the gamut from middle schoolers to moms on a ladies' night out to gay men on date night and everyone in between.
Overheard in the crowd: Every single lyric to every single song she played.
Reporter's notebook: Contains synonyms for "feisty" and "sassy".
Set list: A lively mix of songs from her 2007debut album Little Voice and her 2009 album Kaleidoscope Heart, plus a cover of Radiohead's "Nice Dream."