Monday, April 10, 2023

Live Shows: Caroline Rose and Hammydown, Royale, Boston, MA 4/6/23

Photo by Ken Sears

I've been going to Caroline Rose shows for a few years now, and they've always been a bit of a showperson. From back when they were playing the two hundred forty person Great Scott with a bunch of red items on stage (fake flowers, a stuffed cat with red on its mouth, red stuffed animals, etc) to playing The Sinclair with all of the same items, but everything awash in red light, I've come to expect a show. But nothing prepared me for what I saw Thursday night at Royale.

Caroline Rose has been posting about the light show they designed in preparation for this tour. I'm not a big fan of complicated lights, and most shows I go to tend to be pretty low tech. But Rose's light show and stage set up complicated the music perfectly. This tour is a performance of The Art of Forgetting in its entirety, as it is meant to be heard as a piece of art. The stage set up featured Rose out front with two guitars and a keyboard. All other performers were behind screens and mostly out of view. Sometimes you could see them through the screen, but mostly if you saw the four other musicians it was while they were backlit through the screens. Colors flashed through the rectangles, which had a very 1960's vibe to it. It was an odd set up, but it works perfectly with the music. The Art of Forgetting is about loss and being alone, so it makes perfect sense to have Rose basically alone on stage. 

The songs on The Art of Forgetting worked perfectly in this live setting. At one point Rose left the stage and popped up on the bar towards the back of Royale to sing a song, and then crowdsurf back to the stage. It was a surprisingly moving moment in a moving show. This is Rose's largest headlining tour, but it's also her most intimate and personal. Even those of us that don't care for large spectacles are going to be moved by this tour. It's a large spectacle that somehow makes the entire evening smaller and more beautiful.

For an encore (that started with Rose singing a song at the soundbooth solo with a guitar and illuminated by a cell phone), Rose played "the hits," which included favorites like "More of the Same" and "Jeannie." It also saw the stage being set up to include the rest of the band. It was a perfect way to make sure the audience left on a high note, but The Art of Forgetting was the highlight of the night. At one point Rose said that they felt the album was a classic, but it would take five years for people to realize it. Anyone that makes it to this tour will definitely realize it. It's rare to spend an entire weekend thinking about how much a concert moved you, but that's what is happening with Rose's current tour.

Hammydown opened the show, fronted by Abbie Morin, who I immediately recognized their time in Caroline Rose's band. When their set first started, it seemed like fairly standard modern indie rock. Good, but nothing spectacular. As their set went on, I slowly got more and more into it. I'm not sure if they were just saving their best songs as the set went on, or if their charm just won me over, but by the end Hammydown became one of my favorite live performances of the year so far. Morin mentioned they had recorded an album with Rose during lockdown, and that's what Hammydown was playing Thursday night. Let's hope that comes out sooner than later.

Check out our photo album of shows over at Facebook.

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