Valerie June Performance Review

Story posted November 11, 2022 in

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. - With glowing blue stage lights hovering overhead, and a cloud of mist following behind her, bluegrass singer-songwriter Valerie June made her entrance Wednesday night at the State Theatre. 

June was met with tentative eyes and the hollering of local Pennsylvanians in the crowd as she came out wearing a bright green dress, donning a poofy, pink shawl over her shoulders.

The native Tennessean was met with a full audience as she sat down in her cushioned chair, the sound of her southern accent piercing the ears of her audience.

Everybody inside the theater stayed quiet as June strummed furiously on her guitar, her vocals echoing, creating an almost silent and ethereal atmosphere.

June performed a variety of original songs, most she said during her show, weren’t even recorded. 

One of the tracks June played was what she called “a rain dance song.” 

She perfectly encapsulated the title and theme through her performance, the reverb and jangle from her voice and instrumentals bouncing off the balcony walls of the theater, and “raining” down on the audience’s ears.

After the end of each track, she was met with whistling and clapping from her fans. Rather than going from song to song like some more introverted artists- or artists who have no interest being there- she was very interactive with the audience.

She cracked a joke here and there, as listeners enjoyed her vibrant and joyful personality, as she took her time tuning and setting up her tiny banjo or guitar.

“I’m human,” June said. “Kind of. . .”

Transitions from track to track were smooth. She caressed the strings of her guitar as she talked about what she was about to play. 

One such song was what she called, “a song for lovers,” a folky melody with a slow tempo; a fairly typical love ballad.

While a lot of her music lacks the story-telling aspect of most singer-songwriters as most of her tracks seemed to contain themes of love and nature, she makes up for it through her bright mood, emotional playing and sociable attitude on-stage. 

During one point of the show, June introduced a calming finger style of guitar playing, while singing about “walking through the astral plane,” picking up on her tempo and creating moments of tension, keeping the audience fixated. 

June closed the show with swooning hand gestures and bluesy guitar riffs. The opening act, a bluegrass and folk duo, Violet Bell, joined her onstage to perform a harmony, voices matching beautifully.

June received a standing ovation as she kissed the audience goodbye and bid State College adieu. 

Although her time at the State Theatre was a brief - minus the opening act, she was there for a little bit over an hour - June delivered a wholesome and fun experience for those that came to see her.

The next time June swings by Penn State, she can expect to be greeted with a full audience, ready to listen to her sparkly and soulful music.

Rating: 8/10

Jon Mead is a fourth-year majoring in digital and print journalism. To contact him, email

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