Local Current Blog

Review and photos: Wild Belle get raucous at the Cedar Cultural Center

Photos by Steven Cohen for MPR

Attending a concert with expectations in mind can have a disappointing or exhilarating result. Friday night’s Wild Belle concert was, for me, the latter. It was obvious that all of the elements for a great concert were present: a stage completely full of various instruments, party lighting including strobe lights, and an open dance floor.

Out of Chicago, Wild Belle comprises brother-and-sister duo Elliot and Natalie Bergman. They made music individually until 2013, when they collaborated and released Wild Belle’s first album Isles. Several songs from that album reached television and movie screens. “Shine” achieved a spot on the soundtrack for The Way Way Back and an episode of Grey’s Anatomy. “While Keep You” was played in the movie Pitch Perfect. A collaboration, “Be Together,” was featured on Major Lazer’s 2015 album Peace Is the Mission. This past April, Wild Belle released their sophomore album Dreamland, and Friday’s concert at the Cedar Cultural Center was the group’s final stop on a tour in support of the album.

Opening for Wild Belle were Weatherman, also from Chicago. Consisting of three seasoned musicians — Annie Higgins, Jason Toth, and Joshua Dumas — they have a polished synth sound. Higgins, the lead vocalist, hopped back and forth between the upright piano and electronic keyboard: “I’m getting kind of dizzy.” Despite only having three released singles, Weatherman played a full set that was characterized by steady rhythms and smooth piano melodies.

Wild Belle took the stage shortly after, and without hesitation, began tearing through 15 songs. The Bergmans were joined by five additional musicians, and the all-ages crowd was captivated by the set — which was just over an hour long.

Beginning with the first three tracks off Dreamland (“Mississippi River,” “Dreamland,” and “Losing You”), the band demonstrated a wide variety of musical abilities. Created with keyboard, drums, guitar, bass, bongo drums, back-up vocals, and at times hand-percussion items, their sound can loosely be described as psychedelic funk-pop. Natalie’s unwavering vocals set a theme for the night: ending relationships.

Moving from song to song without much chatter in between, Elliot took a rare break from his keyboard and said, “It’s really good to be in Minnesota because it feels like home.” Continuing on with their set, Natalie strutted the front of the stage during “Coyotes” singing “ah-ooh,” paired with cackling laughter mimicking a coyote. When the band later slowed things down for “Rock & Roll Angel,” it was clear that it was a personal song for Natalie. She appeared to be singing to an absent, unidentified figure.

“Keep You” anchored the set right before the encore, and had every musician on stage at playing at full strength. The number was greeted with loud cheers from the dancing crowd, who quickly demanded an encore. The encore, “Throw Down Your Guns,” began with Natalie going solo on the upright piano. The rest of the band joined in during the song’s drop, which was ear-splitting — in a good way.

Setlist
Mississippi River
Dreamland
Losing You
Happy Home
Another Girl
Coyotes
Cannonball
Giving Up On You
Backslider
Our Love Will Survive
Love Like This
The One That Got Away
Rock & Roll Angel
Keep You
Encore
Throw Down Your Guns

Kelly Busche is a member of the class of 2019 at the University of Minnesota — Twin Cities with plans to major in journalism.