“Honey” Comes to First Avenue

Samia’s latest album doesn’t disappoint

Last month, indie pop artist Samia released her sophomore studio album, Honey, and seems to have dodged the second album curse that so many artists fall to. The album on its own is an incredible body of work with lyrics and vocals so crystal-clear it feels like she’s reaching into your brain to pick out your innermost thoughts; contrasted with soft, occasionally even lo-fi-esque instrumentals.

This past Saturday, the Honey tour made a stop at Minneapolis’s iconic First Avenue venue, along with openers WHY NOT and Tommy Lefroy. I made the journey to the cities to meet up with a friend and see the show, and it was absolutely worth the drive.

WHY NOT, a three-piece alternative rock group from Minneapolis began the evening with a set of infectious indie rock that keeps you on your toes at every turn, borrowing from so many different genres they almost defy classification. It was evident that the people onstage loved the music they were making, and that made me love it all the more.

Minneapolis-based rapper Papa Mbye made a guest appearance during the song “CASKET,” which he also features on the recording of, appearing onstage to a swell of screams.

Also, the WHY NOT merch table included WHY NOT-branded stickers and books of matches for free, which I think is awesome. The matches are reminiscent of hotel matchboxes with the name along the side to spread the word as you step outside for a casual cigarette, and the sheer novelty of the idea of band-branded matchbooks is absolute genius. 

WHY NOT was followed by Tommy Lefroy, the female alt-pop duo named after Thomas Langlois Lefroy – the 19th-century gentleman speculated to be the inspiration behind Mr. Darcy who broke Jane Austen’s heart. Fuzzy guitars and lo-fi beats underlaid clever lyrics about pretentious ex-boyfriends, uncontrolled catastrophizing, and other struggles of 21st-century 20-something women: basically, my favorite kind of music.

By the time Tommy Lefroy was done, I almost felt like the show should be over. The headliner hadn’t even come out, and there had already been two incredible sets.

But after the two rousing openers, 26-year-old Samia took the stage, the last one to follow her band members on. Wearing a blazer, tweed miniskirt, fishnet tights, and knee-high boots, she opened the set with “Kill Her Freak Out,” the first song on the album Honey.

Samia opens the set with an impassioned “Kill Her Freak Out”

It was a quiet, powerful song as she stood illuminated by a single spotlight, singing with exactly the kind of anguish the lyrics of that song – about watching someone you still love marry their childhood sweetheart – invoke.

The final note rang quietly in First Avenue’s main room before more stage lights came up in a seamless transition and she launched into the bouncing “Fit N Full,” blazer coming off and the energy of an amazing artist who knows she’s good flooding off the stage and into the room.

The rest of the set alternated between songs from the new album, like the titular “Honey,” and old favorites from the 2020 album The Baby like “Triptych” and of course, “Minnesota.” Papa Mbye made another appearance during the song “Mad at Me,” the recording of which he also features on.

Samia captivated the audience’s attention at every turn, whether she was pouring her heart out into the mic, staring out at us as if imploring us to understand, or abandoning the mic stand to dance, eyes closed and letting the music take over. Samia is someone who loves the music she’s performing, and it shows. The set was incredible. 

Halfway through, she announced, “This song is called “Breathing Song,” uh oh,” before settling at the front of the stage to press relentlessly through the song recounting her experience with sexual assault, never once wavering through the four verses and bridge.

The last chorus, simply a repeating “no, no, no,” is sung completely alone, growing increasingly anguished each time until the last “no” rings out through the room. The applause after “Breathing Song” went on longer than any other song the whole night.

She closed the set by bringing Tommy Lefroy back onstage to sing “Dream Song” with her, before introducing each band member for the second time that night and drawing rounds of applause. The band disappeared for a minute until returning for an encore, where Rafaella, a fellow member of Samia’s other band, Peach Fuzz, came onstage to sing “Shaking the Can,” a Peach Fuzz original.

The night was then closed with the song “Show Up,” the chorus of which reiterates that “nothing could ever stop/my ass from showing up/to sing another song for the people I love.” With that, Samia exited the stage to raucous applause, and I had to pretend I didn’t feel like I was floating on the walk back to my car.

There are some artists who perform live like they’re taking their whole heart out and setting it on the stage for you, and Samia is one of them. She does nothing by halves, and her gentle voice has such intense strength behind it that makes it feel like the music is surrounding you and picking you up. This was the first concert I’ve been to this year, and it set the bar high.

Check out Samia’s new album, Honey, on streaming services everywhere, and if you get the chance to see her live, take it. You will not regret it. 

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