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Friday, May 24, 2024
Margaret Glaspy showcased a pure talent unlike any other at The Frequency Sunday. 

Margaret Glaspy showcased a pure talent unlike any other at The Frequency Sunday. 

Margaret Glaspy, Bad Bad Hats prove power of raw talent

Just shy of 200 Madisonians huddled into the The Frequency Sunday night to soak up the singer-songwriter stylings of Margaret Glaspy, accompanied by the Midwest trio Bad Bad Hats.

The venue, which could easily be mistaken for the basement of that one cool friend you had in high school, was the perfect setting for the young performers. The ragtag group of fans—ranging from high school fangirls to middle-aged admirers—all packed in close, as if everyone was the performers’ biggest fan.

Originally hailing from Minnesota, Bad Bad Hats mostly kept to their recently released album Psychic Reader, though threw in some familiar songs from their 2013 EP.

Frontwoman Kerry Alexander charmed the crowd all night, using her lovable awkwardness to almost set the crowd at ease—she wasn’t an unapproachable artist, but rather a close friend who just happened to be up on stage strumming the guitar.

In just a pair of high-waisted jeans and a T-shirt, Alexander really didn’t look too different from a majority of the crowd.

She shared throughout the set that inspiration for many of the songs came from experiences in her college life, including “Super America,” named for a Minnesota supermarket.

“Sometimes you just need to sit on your couch with a comfortable pant and a snack,” Alexander said before jumping into the convenience-store-themed love song.

The booking of these two acts together created a sense of narrativ.ith Bad Bad Hats, you get the carefree, giddy sounds of a young, naive girl looking for love wherever she can find it (as evidenced in the catchy “All-Nighter”). Glaspy, however, represents the post-breakup, no-nonsense woman, who’s seemingly found independence in spite of a less-than-perfect relationship.

From the moment she took the stage, Glaspy presented a more self-assured, assertive aura than Alexander. At one point during a guitar-tuning break, a restless concert-goer asked Glaspy if she had any jokes to tell. Without missing a beat, Glaspy calmly responded, “No, I have a song though.” Glaspy’s style wasn’t to make chit-chat; rather, she shared her personality through her songs, of which she had many.

She opened with “Emotions and Math,” which also serves as the title of her June-released album.

Glaspy stuck mainly to this recent repertoire, but also shared some covers (including Lucinda Williams’ “Fruits of My Labor” and Bjork’s “Who Is It?”) and a pair of unnamed new ditties.

Though Glaspy—who resembled more a third grade teacher than an angsty femme rocker—sang often of failed or troubled relationships, don’t be mistaken: She isn’t a Taylor Swift wannabe. Her songs aren’t lyrical pinings for the man who did her wrong, but rather a warning not to be messed with and a realization of her wasted time. “Situation” told listeners to stop making assumptions, while “Parental Guidance” informed her man that it’s about time to start making an effort. In “No Matter Who,” Glaspy displayed her incredible range, with her angelic high notes and Louis Armstrong-esque growl.

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Glaspy didn't just showcase her voice—on several occasions, the songstress broke out in incredible guitar solos, truly solidifying her frontman position.

During her slow ballad “You’re Smiling But I Don’t Believe You,” you could hear a pin drop. All ears and eyes were stuck on Glaspy, with members of the crowd even shushing fellow listeners when chatter began to creep up.

Glaspy is an all-around talent. It’s hard to find an artist to liken her to, as she embraces her own style and presence. She’s like an American Amy Winehouse, with more articulation and control. A female Shakey Graves, with a darker edge. Or a grittier Joy Williams of The Civil Wars, with her own independence.

But even those comparisons don’t do her talents justice: She’s just Margaret Glaspy.

She put her whole heart into each song—her face showed pain when singing the darker songs, her smile appeared during the lighter tunes. Her soul reverberated off the chords of her guitar, her emotions seeped out with each note.

Glaspy closed out the evening with “Somebody to Anybody," and if Sunday’s show was any indication, she’ll soon truly be a somebody to a whole lot of music listeners out there.

Both of these sets demonstrated the power of live music. Too often today we see artists who rely on external factors—light shows, costume changes, back-up dancers, etc.—in order to excite and win over their crowds, and you can argue those things do have their own place in live performance.

But for both Glaspy and Hats, however, their strength was primarily in their voices. What you saw was what you got with each, and it was easy to tell that both these acts possess raw, extraordinary talent.

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