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Faye Webster’s alt-country invigorates sold-out crowd at First Avenue

Four albums into her career, Webster is on the verge of her big commercial break.
Image by Ethan Lambert
Faye Webster performing at First Avenue on Monday, Oct. 30.

Set behind a backdrop of a statue depicting Faye Webster as an ancient God-like figure, the Atlanta-based singer-songwriter and her band took the stage at First Avenue’s main room to an enthusiastic crowd. Despite not having released a studio album in over two years, Webster’s fans showed a level of excitement that was not present at her last show in Minnesota in 2022.

Webster opened with “But Not Kiss,” a single released last summer ahead of what is expected to be another studio album. Webster started the song quietly singing and delicately strumming her guitar onstage. Then the sold-out crowd shouted the opening lyrics while the remaining band members came on stage to build a celestial, piano-dominant soundscape.

“But Not Kiss” is one of Webster’s best songs to date. While much of Webster’s music can feel uniform in its sound throughout her studio albums, “But Not Kiss” stands out so much because it has a dynamic range that translates to a powerful live rendition.

The audience was responsive to the live performance, breaking out into more screams and cheers as the louder parts of the song intermittently came between the verses. From the outset, there was non-stop enthusiasm from the crowd.

While Webster’s last LP is a robust project, one issue with compiling much of it into a concert is it does not feel suited for a venue that is packed to the brim with attendees standing in general admission. For the more relaxed-sounding parts of her set, the songs begged to be listened to in a more laid-back setting like a seated theater. However, when the songs show dynamics — by getting loud for just a little bit — it makes the general admission experience worthwhile.

Webster’s song “Kind Of,” a twangy and atmospheric piece of alternative country, stood out in her Minneapolis performance with the drum-heavy crescendo before the chorus. This characteristic in several of Webster’s songs proves to make the live experience stronger. While it is a secret weapon that Webster uses sparingly, she uses it just a bit too sparingly. The band sounds commanding when they do turn up the volume within the context of a setlist defined by softer, vibey tracks.

Webster showed her sense of humor by abruptly cueing in a song from Pokémon into the show, “Eterna City.” The performance was bright and jazzy, and while the inclusion of it in the setlist might be looked at as humorous by some, Webster and her band did a memorable rendition of it as she played keyboards on the track along with her band.

Closing out the main set was “Cheers,” a song that is similar to the set-opener “But Not Kiss” in the sense that it also shows a striking dynamic range with verses defined by chugging guitar chords and a steady bass drum that crescendoed into the chorus, it was a satisfactory climax to the night.

Webster came out for two more songs for the encore. The first song, performed by Webster and one other member of her band on backup vocals, showed the singer-songwriter getting experimental. For the first time in the show, she used autotune vocals. Through autotune, Webster appropriated hyperpop within the context of her songwriting style, and it worked well. The performance left the audience excited for what other experimentation could also be on her fifth studio album.

The final song of the evening was Webster’s signature song, “Kingston,” from her 2019 studio album “Atlanta Millionaires Club.” The ballad engulfed the audience with atmospheric, sentimental production complimented by a reverb-heavy steel guitar resulting in the greatest crowd reception of the show.

Fans screamed every lyric of “Kingston,” especially in the chorus: “Baby, tell me where you want to go. Baby, tell me what you want to know. Give you everything I have and more.”

Showcasing a total of five new tracks, Webster’s performance at First Avenue was an exciting preview of what is to come from her next album. Along with a remarkably engaged crowd of loving fans, Webster’s talents as a singer-songwriter are undoubtedly set to shape an eclectic, masterful discography.

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