Thao Nguyen Mid solo during her tour opener at The Fine Line Music Cafe

We’re three songs into the set when Thao greets the crowd. “This tour was originally scheduled for May of 2020” She said smiling. After a pause to let the audience soak that in, she continued “We’re back, we’re happy, we’re alive and we’re thankful” A heartwarming round of applause came from the crowd before she added: “And we’re also fuckin pissed!” 

While May of 2020 feels like decades ago, it actually hasn’t been very long since Thao performed in the Twin Cities, opening for Julien Baker back in September, when live shows were slowly making a return. Last night, she started her headlining tour in Minneapolis before moving nationwide, playing Madison tonight. “Much better than doing this over Zoom” she said to the crowd at one point. 

Since September, Thao has since dropped the Get Down Stay Down from her band name, as well as longtime collaborator and band member Adam Thompson. On stage tonight with her was drummer Jason Slota, also a long time collaborator with Thao, as well as Bassist/Vocalist Micayla Grace, and Keyboardist, Vocalist, and Violinist Alex Guy. Together they played very well, all able to expertly keep up with Thao’s intricate, abrupt style. Thao herself is no slouch on any instrument onstage, Shredding the Mandolin on songs like Departure  and Every Body, The banjo on Holy Roller and guitar on songs like Guts, Hand to God and Phenom.

Thao’s latest album Temple was released back in 2020, however this tour doesn’t seem like a tour to promote the album, but perhaps a tour just to get back out on the road once more. Most of tonight’s setlist consisted of songs from Thao’s 2016 release A Man Alive and 2013’s We the Common. The night ended with Temple’s final track Marrow with the encore being a spirited cover of M.I.A.’s Bad Girls with great audience participation. 
When Thao announced the dissolution of The Get Down Stay Down last year, I was worried that we may have seen the last of many of these songs, but tonight showed me that Thao and the excellent music she performs arent going anywhere, regardless of what comes next. Thao and her band even debuted a new song, the name of which is unknown, but we’re sure to hear more of her style in years to come. Hopefully, in larger venues than the Fine Line, and (fingers crossed) not over Zoom.

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