It only took four years, but I finally had the chance to fall in love with the Guthrie. The love connection came via Friday’s final installment of the three-night Cadence hip-hop series, which took place way up in the 9th floor Dowling Studio, adjacent to the yellow-box observation deck thingie. It’s an inarguably cool setting at night, and the (seatless) studio proved to be a warm music space -- high-ceilinged, but intimate. Here’s hoping the Guthrie lets us Shakespeare-flunkee music fans up there a little more often.
Cadence’s hostess and curator, Dessa
, rose to the high-level occasion, too. Playing with a backing band that included Heiruspecs’ Sean McPherson
on bass and Aby Wolf
on backup vocals, the Doomtree rapper/singer/poet emphasized the stylish, jazzy elements of her “Badly Broken Code” album without lessening the lyrical blow. “Dixon’s Girl”
kicked off the set with a wow, and the show bounced around with a cool, slightly schizo variation from there. Standouts ranged from the wiry rocker “Seamstress” to the lightly funky, Erykah Badu-ish nugget “Matches to Paper Dolls” to the other-woman ballad “Go Home.” Dessa gave the show a homey fell by shouting out to her mom, dad, grandma and
ex-step-mom (“It’s family. It’s big.”).
Dessa’s “Code” collaborator Matthew Santos – best-known for singing the hook in Lupe Fiasco’s hit “Superstar” – came home to Minneapolis from Chicago just for the show. Santos' soulful, falsetto-leaning voice rang through the studio beautifully, and his Jeff Buckley-meets-Dave Matthews-style hippie-folk songs songs sounded extra elegant with another local folkie on backup vocals, Chastity Brown.