There’s an effortless naturalism to Katie Crutchfield’s songcraft that belies the profound inner depths her music plumbs. At St. Paul’s Palace Theatre Friday night, the Waxahatchee frontwoman spun the magical indie folk tales of her hard-won self-discovery, leaving the modern, yet ornate venue soaked in the radiant melancholy of her confessionals.

Modern yet ornate is a good way to describe the set. Standing atop a small circular platform, she was Bathed in the warm glow of vintage bulbs below her, the same bulbs used in the ornate archways behind her band. Reminiscent of an old game show set, she dressed as a distinctly modern, badass figure in yellow trucker cap (not for long, throwing the hat into the crowd during the first song) chrome stilettos and leather pants, as the slow build of “3 Sisters” shimmered to life.

From the stripped-back acoustic strum of “3 Sisters” to the thunderous catharsis of “Hell,” with its mantra-like refrain of “I’ll put you through hell” defiantly chanted back by the enraptured crowd, Crutchfield’s latest stunner Tigers Blood provided the thematic bedrock. These are emotionally acute songs that blur the lines between pining introspection and soul-shattering self-reckoning, every line carved from the messy trenches of interior struggle.

The big-boned laments of “Can’t Do Much” and heart-stilled hush of “Lone Star Lake” highlighted this duality, the former’s “I want you” howl hitting like a punch to the gut before the latter’s, lazy lyrics (“What do you say/You sleep all day/Drive out to Lone Star Lake”) enveloped us in hushed, moonlit tones. Crutchfield proved a consummate troubadour, stitching intimate portraits of longing and alienation with precision. It’s the second night of the tour, and it was hard to hear any flubs. 

But even if the show wasnt feral, this was a performance steeped in respect for indie’s roots – a marriage of sorts of folk’s plainspoken poeticism and rock’s untamed emotionalism. It reached its poignant climax on the lighters-aloft sway of “Fire,” Crutchfield leaving it all on the stage as she rasped lines like “It aint enough/ I take if for granted” sitting on the edge of the stage singing to the crowd.

Tigers Blood, like much of Waxahatchee’s oeuvre, has that rare quality of feeling both intimately lived-in yet ceaselessly alive and revelatory. You can listen to it when cleaning the apartment and let it grow with you, so that one day when you move out of that apartment, you can put it on when doing laundry, listen to it in a soft murmur in the background, and come back to the speaker it’s playing from later – knowing exactly where you’re at in the record. 

It’s why they resonate so well, and why the Palace Theatre was very sold out for the show. Even resellers were asking wild prices to see this one. I’ll admit that Waxahatchee did a good job falling under my radar the last few times she swung into town, the last being a First Avenue show in 2021, and a duo headliner with Hurray for The Riff Raff in 2018. The jump from a First Avenue gig proves she’s not flying under a lot of radars anymore, either. 

With her latest album, Waxahatchee has staked out rarefied territory as a worthy torchbearer for the enduring spiritual heft of roots-infused songcraft. Here’s to Katie Crutchfield, who continues to evolve and impress, ensuring that the term ‘indie darling’ remains as relevant and vibrant as ever.

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