In 2018, supergroup boygenius, comprised of Julian Baker, Phoebe Bridgers, and Lucy Dacus, formed their band around the irony of women in music being compared solely on their gender. In 2019—otherwise known as Billie Eilish’ catapult to superstardom, revealed that she wears extremely baggy, oversized clothing so strangers aren’t able to comment on her appearance. What will happen in popular music in 2020? While the future is unknown, it is easy to see that the way that musicians choose to showcase themselves to the public is becoming more and more autonomous.
Enter Claud Mintz, once performing under the stage name “Toast,” now just under Claud (who decided to change their performance name after they were threatened with a lawsuit from Wonder Bread). Claud grew up in Highland Park, a suburb outside of Chicago, and started making music with Josh Mehling as a freshman at Syracuse University. They later connected with Max Wortman of Terrible Records (a label that includes previous Chicago Haze features like Miya Folick and Empress Of), and the rest is history.
After the lawsuit scare, Claud had to reconsider what name they would be releasing music under, as a typical first name like Claud may imply certain things about their gender. Claud identifies as gender non-binary and prefers the they/them pronouns, and often addresses it in their songs. When musicians announce a gender preference that is not considered to be the “norm,” it may put pressure on them to create music for a certain group of people, act in a certain way, or automatically become a role model to marginalized communities who are looking to identify with someone like them. While this can be a heavy burden to carry, Claud doesn’t seem to mind. In a 2018 interview with Pond Magazine, they shared that they are more than willing to take on the role.
“I have a small platform, but it’s bigger than most, and I feel really fortunate because I think as a queer person I have a lot to say, and there’s a lot of people who need to hear it.” And on the difficulty of existing on a fan-supported pedestal? “It’s definitely a lot of pressure, but it’s necessary.”
Claud has had recent stints opening up for artists like girl in red, girlpool, Clairo and most recently, The Neighbourhood. Their second EP, Sideline Star, was released this past October. Claud has been performing a string of headline shows over the past month, ending with a sold-out, hometown show at Schubas Tavern in Chicago this past Monday evening.
It took a couple songs for Claud to seem comfortable onstage, which makes sense, considering the majority of their experience has been touring to support other musicians. There’s a stark difference in performing with the hopes of making fans, versus the pressure of performing to a group of people who are already there because they are a fan. On top of a handful of the audience members being Claud’s family members, plus their dentist in attendance, you can understand the nerves they would have in that scenario (I don’t think I could do it). Regardless, the nervous energy quickly transitioned into excitement.
Claud performed for just about 75 minutes, weaving through 11 or 12 songs. Most were met with audience members singing along, complete with lots of iPhone video footage and neon-colored hair. The age range in attendance was definitely in the late teens, but it was balanced nicely with Claud’s wide range of family members, including their two grandmothers singing along in the second row.
My favorite moments from the set include Claud’s performance of “Online,” a standout track from their most recent release. A very 2019, millennial way to end the show was with their pre-encore performance of the track “Easy,” a song that Lil Nas X DM’d them about on Instagram, saying “it made him cry.”
I think my very favorite moment was the performance of “Sideline Star,” a song that Claud explains, is about “always feeling like you’re never the star of the show and being pushed aside and learning how to be the best at that.”
Despite the sentiment, I definitely think they are on their way to being the center of attention.
Photos shot by me for Chicago Haze. Click here for all of Chicago Haze’s show reviews.