The Current

Great Music Lives Here ®
Listener-Supported Music
Donate Now

Weyes Blood glows with grace at First Avenue

Weyes Blood played at First Avenue on Tuesday, March 14, 2023, with opener Vagabon.
Weyes Blood played at First Avenue on Tuesday, March 14, 2023, with opener Vagabon. Sara Fish for MPR

by Macie Rasmussen

March 16, 2023

On the cover of her 2019 album, Titanic Rising, Natalie Laura Mering — who performs under the name Weyes Blood — floats fully submerged underwater in a bedroom, staring directly into the camera. At the artist’s Tuesday evening show at First Avenue, audience eyes locked with Mering as she dragged them down into the water of hypnosis with her. 

Songs from Titanic Rising — along with those off of the 2022 album, And In The Darkness, Hearts Aglow — filled the evening. It charted a luminescent space between heartfelt confessions and dystopian anthems of modern human life.

Weyes Blood plays at a keyboard surrounded by bandmates and candelabras
Weyes Blood played at First Avenue on Tuesday, March 14, 2023, with opener Vagabon.
Sara Fish for MPR

Listening to Mering’s balladry, it may be easy to assume the singer has a graceful stage presence, and that’s undeniably correct. Surrounded by candelabras and dressed in a white gown, the artist swept a cloak gently over her shoulders. While singing into a sleek microphone, her vocal ornamentation gave an effortlessly pristine impression. And immediately after the last note of each song, a quick, satisfied grin flashed across her face. 

Early into the set, Mering invited the audience into “secular church” as she swayed to craft a trance for “God Turn Me Into a Flower.” On the back wall of the venue, a video compilation by BBC documentary filmmaker Adam Curtis played, featuring religious services, fights, basketball, spray paint with the words “burn the banks,” and exorcisms.

Even with the transcendental outward persona, Mering’s conversations with the crowd between songs established a down-to-earth demeanor. At one point, she asked if anyone had brought DVDs for her to play on the bus, which has been a routine on this tour. Sure enough, audience members passed disks to the front of the crowd. The stack included Dirty Dancing and about five outdoor hunting shows, which seemed to be a Midwest joke. Committing to the bit, Mering sincerely said, “Thank you, Minnesota.”

Weyes Blood plays acoustic guitar in a flowy dress while looking downward
Weyes Blood played at First Avenue on Tuesday, March 14, 2023, with opener Vagabon.
Sara Fish for MPR

To collect data for a survey, the singer posed the question: “Who thinks astrology is real?” Applause exploded. “Who thinks it’s not real?” More applause. “It’s neck and neck, but I can say it’s not real.” Although it conflicts with her birth chart, she identifies as a Scorpio. “I want to be more f*cked up,” she said. “Pick a new sign. Identify as a new sign.” This continual type of dry humor with a stoic expression was alluring.

She introduced the psychedelic, slow-burning “Andromeda” with the deadpan joke, “Let’s get this party started. Let’s bring it up a notch.” In the dreamlike chronicle, she sang, “Andromeda's a big, wide open galaxy / Nothing in it for me except a heart that's lazy / Running from my own life now.”

Before sitting down at the piano to play “Everyday,” one of her few upbeat tracks, Mering asked, “Are you ready to mosh? Better see you bashing out there.” The lyrics, “True love is making a comeback,” may seem ironic when listening with headphones, but when played live, they could be fitting for a warm end of a movie scene. The song ended with Mering’s hands chaotically striking the piano for the most energetic moment of the evening, like an ascension to the water’s surface.

Wide view of Weyes Blood and her band on a dark stage
Weyes Blood played at First Avenue on Tuesday, March 14, 2023, with opener Vagabon.
Sara Fish for MPR

Mering quickly pulled the crowd back under the tide as she sang, “Our life, a feeling that's moving / Running on a million people burning / Don't cry, it's a wild time to be alive” on “Wild Time.” The bleak words were harrowing, and yet jazzy chord progressions cradled listeners. Mering had the ability to take tonally dissonant songs — which may evoke tear-sessions in private — and transform them into places of solace in a packed room.

Another question came with “Twin Flame”: “Should we start the rave portion of the set?” A red light appeared on her chest to emulate the cover of And In The Darkness, Hearts Aglow, and wrapping her cloak around her head to conceal herself, she sang, “'Cause we are more than our disguises / We are more than just the pain.” 

As if to wish the audience a hopeful send-off, Mering delivered “Something to Believe” for the encore, labeling it “the thesis for the set.” “The waters don't really go by me / Give me something I can see / Something bigger and louder than the voices in me,”  she sang, as somber acoustic guitar strums accentuated the yearning. When she walked offstage, it was finally time to float to the surface of Mering’s philosophical depths and take a breath. 

During Weyes Blood’s performance, minds may have drifted back to opener Laetitia Tamko’s set when she repeatedly sang the lyrics, “It’s a crisis.” The artist, who goes by Vagabon, stood solo, front and center on stage as she launched backing tracks from her sample pad keyboard. Synths swathed in reverb accompanied bongos and electronic beats on some tracks, while others centered on her voice as she played simple guitar chords from an album set to release in 2023. 

Vagabon sings into a microphone in front of a sample pad keyboard
Weyes Blood played at First Avenue on Tuesday, March 14, 2023, with opener Vagabon.
Sara Fish for MPR

Vagabon had her own question for the audience: “Is the Mall of America even a thing even though we’re in a recession?” The answer was split. She later joked that she thought about going to Macy’s to buy a jacket because of the “cold” (30-degree) weather. 

Surprisingly, she skipped the song, “Minneapolis,” and didn’t sing, “Holding onto my breath / As we ascend on to the Twin Cities,” but the evening didn’t feel any less complete; not in the slightest. 


It’s Not Just Me, It’s Everybody

Children of the Empire

A Lot’s Gonna Change

God Turn Me Into a Flower



A Given Thing


Wild Time

Twin Flame


Hearts Aglow


Something to Believe

Picture Me Better