Photos: Tash Sultana gets real at the Cedar

Tash Sultana at the Cedar Cultural Center on Oct. 10, 2017. All photos by Maddy Fox for MPR.

If millennials demand transparency, it’s no wonder we love Tash Sultana. People of all ages have gotten attached to the 22-year-old Australian, of course, but there’s something quintessentially Tumblr-generation about her and her honesty. Who else knows they’ll be cheered on after telling journalists about their drug-induced psychosis? The mental-health issues that pushed them to cancel a leg of tour? Last night, Sultana shared personal stories and even more personal music, from her EP Notion and beyond, with a sold-out crowd at the Cedar.

A former busker, Sultana exemplifies several free-spirit-kid traits, taking the stage right after most of Bob Marley’s “Is This Love” and promptly taking off her shoes. She balances fun and seriousness while performing, alternately grinning and grimacing as she plays her instruments.

It’s so fun to watch a musician play, in the “games” sense of the word. Sultana is someone so fascinated by music that she’s invested in dozens of pedals and instruments, jamming on keyboards and trumpet alike. There’s a little sting to the electric guitar and a little growl to her voice; when she plays guitar, it sounds like light coming in through blinds, layered and bright.

Much has been made of Sultana’s virtuosic talent: her self-taught guitar work and aptitude for several instruments. At the Cedar, she seemed to dedicate a jam to each instrument she brought with her, from synths to mandolin. “It’s a good way to get high,” she said after puffing her way through a trumpet jam. Later, she’d throw all her energy into a beatbox session — through panpipes.

For an artist yet to release her debut album, Sultana has earned incredible attention. Her song “Jungle,” which was the last pre-encore song last night, earned the #3 spot in Australian station Triple J’s 2016 Hottest 100. Blogs near and far have flocked to share her new song “Mystik.” And audiences have rushed to sell out all of her U.S. tour dates, counting on her to deliver an entertaining show. That she does.

Openers the Pierce Brothers dealt in high-energy, strummy folk rock, playing several songs from their newest project, The Records Were Ours. “I’m so excited,” yelled a jumping Jack Pierce, the more zealous of the twins — and he got the crowd jacked with him by encouraging whoops and sing-alongs. He and his brother Patrick played several instruments among them, with Patrick on vocals and guitar while Jack whirled around on guitar, drums, vocals, and didgeridoo.

Pierce Brothers

Tash Sultana

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