The idea for the final installment of the Walker’s Music & Movies series, which David Campbell explained in his introduction of the evening, was to highlight Grant Cutler and all of his many projects. But if there was one takeaway from Monday night’s showcase in Loring Park, it’s that Cutler’s taste in selecting partners for his collaborations may be his defining characteristic.
The 70-minute set in Loring was a true showcase, with four separate Cutler-affiliated projects receiving equal attention as the night unfolded. To begin, Cutler debuted his new partnership with drummer Arlen Peiffer and vocalist Holly Hansen, Weird Visions—a slinky, Sade-channeling R&B project that resembles a more guitar-driven version of Aby Wolf’s Wolf Lords or a sparser, less rhythmic Poliça. It was a treat to hear Hansen singing in a more straightforward way, and the three songs they performed showed off the full range and potential of her elastic voice in addition to Cutler’s textural guitar tones. The band didn’t even get to the material off of their two-song digital release, so they have at least five songs composed now; after such a bold debut, I’m hoping they book more shows on their own soon.
Next up was a brief performance by Cutler himself, who reminded the audience that he, too, has a wide vocal range. Cutler performed an operatic electro ballad that he had composed for an installment by conceptual artist Abraham Cruzvillegas at the Walker, and the sprawling song complemented the other pieces in the set nicely.
A brief performance of three songs off of Cutler and Wolf’s collaboration Wolf Lords followed, and though I already knew what to expect from these two, I still found goosebumps running up and down my arms as they worked through their epic slow jam “Stay Right There.” By this point, a pair of sasquatches had taken the stage wielding tiny electric guitars, and it only added to the surreal nature of taking in such grandiose and emotionally powerful music in a relaxed outdoor setting.
Zoo Animal closed out the night with a set of four songs, and lead singer Holly Hansen joked that she really enjoyed all of the acts of the evening, including the first one. (“It wasn’t me… that person was wearing a different shirt,” she quipped.) The band wound through a short set of brand new material, each song simmering with the same dark, moody undercurrent. If those four snippets were any indication, the next Zoo Animal album is going to be even more powerful than Hansen’s previous work.
All told, it was a series of performances that each left the audience wanting more—a difficult feat for something as loose as a Music & Movies event. With that much talent parading around the stage, they could easily bring a similar show to a venue and fill up a whole night.