Monthly Archives: November 2014

Hey Rosetta! and Stars

Friday, November 8, 2014

Port City Music Hall, Portland, Maine

I stumbled upon Canada’s Hey Rosetta! many years ago online and love their layered, full sound and lead singer’s Tim Baker’s smooth voice. I’d been keeping an eye on their tour schedule for what felt like forever, and was SO excited to see they were finally coming to Maine to open for Montreal’s Stars. This was the first night of their tour together. I got to Port City Music Hall early to make sure I had a good spot up front, and I met Jen there, who’d driven down from New Brunswick just for the show. It was great to watch the show with another fan, and there were plenty of Hey Rosetta! fans and friendly Canadians in the crowd. My friends Bartlett and Ellie showed up right before the show, too. I’d suggested to Bartlett that he catch Hey Rosetta’s set at Bonnaroo when they were both there in 2012 and he did and was hooked. Hey Rosetta! sounded great live. They are a seven-piece indie band and create a rich sound with the usual four-piece instruments, but also with the addition of a string section, horns, and tight harmonies. I was probably most excited to hear “Yer Spring” and “Young Glass,” both from their 2011 album, Seeds. Tim didn’t say a whole lot to the crowd (which I would have liked), but did tell us that he’d just recovered from being really sick, so I’ll give him a pass. Hey Rosetta! played eight beautiful songs and left the stage—many of us wanting more. I hope they’ll come back and headline a show sometime so we can dig in a bit more. You can stream their newest album, Second Sight, here. I hope you’ll give them a listen.

Tim Baker is the frontman of Hey Rosetta! (I didn't hear back in time from their publicist, so these aren't taken with my fancy camera).

Tim Baker is the frontman of Hey Rosetta!(I didn’t hear back in time from their publicist, so these aren’t taken with my fancy camera).

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I ended up literally front and center touching the stage (my favorite) for Stars, and they were awesome from the first second they took the stage. I’d been streaming their October release, No One is Lost, a lot in the weeks before the show, and really enjoyed their pop sound. Torquil Campbell took us all in immediately as he effortlessly engaged the crowd. He sang above me (and I had to duck out of his way) as he leaned into the eager, bopping crowd. Amy Millan also shone brightly on stage, with her sharp dance moves and comfortable banter. They have the kind of stage presence you earn after more than a decade together, and it shows that they care about the caliber of show they put on and don’t take it for granted. Check out the video for their newest single “From The Night” to get a taste of their style. Even though I was impressed, I hadn’t packed my earplugs, and Stars was L-O-U-D. Bartlett texted me to say they’d left because the sound was so overwhelming, and even though I decided to ditch my front row spot for a place in the very back of the room, I still felt overtaken by the sound in a way that pushed me out the doors early, too. I’ll definitely pack some earplugs and stay the whole show next time (and maybe the guys in the sound booth can turn it down a bit, too?).

Stars

Stars

Torquil Campbell

Torquil Campbell

I love being this close to the stage!

I love being this close to the stage!

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Amy Millan has got *it*!

Amy Millan has got *it*!

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So glad to have finally seen Hey Rosetta! live. I hope they’ll come back again soon and play twice as long.

xo,

bree

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Eric Hutchinson, Tristan Prettyman, and Nick Howard

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Port City Music Hall, Portland, Maine

This was the kind of grey and dreary Tuesday that felt like it should have been a Thursday already. I was so ready for Daylight Savings Time, and I think the dark weather sadly ended up clouding my show experience. I had a sluggish afternoon after school holding my dear friend’s two-month-old baby girl for a few hours before heading down to Portland to catch this show. I got to Sarah’s house just as Eric Hutchinson and Tristan Prettyman’s Studio Z interview on 98.9 WCLZ began and listened while I snuggled baby Isabelle. I’d seen Eric live back in 2012 on his “Almost Solo Tour” with accompanist Elliott Blaufuss, and he was a supreme entertainer—as much a stand up comedian as a singer-songwriter. I was happy to hear that he was just as engaging over the radio, joking that the way he and Tristan co-headlined this tour was by each playing their set simultaneously on opposite sides of a curtain and seeing who gets more attention from the crowd. Tristan and Eric talked about being good friends for over a decade and how excited they were to put the City & Sand Tour together (she’s from San Diego and he’s living in NYC). Tristan talked about going through a lot of transitions—being dropped by her label, firing her manager, becoming a one-woman operation, and getting married in August right before spending two weeks in the studio after her honeymoon recording her new EP, Back To Home. They sounded like they were already having fun together on the road (the tour just started the night before in Boston), and they played a fun cover of “All About That Bass” together that got me geared up for the show.

Isabelle is quite snuggly

Isabelle is quite snuggly

She's so snuggly that we fell asleep together for a little while before I took off for the show

She’s so snuggly that we fell asleep together for a little while before I took off for the show.

I arrived early to grab my press ticket and a front row spot. My friends Andrea and Cory were already at Port City Music Hall by the time I arrived, but sadly couldn’t stand up front with me because Cory was injured and needed to sit for the show. For whatever reason, being solo at this show made it less fun. I ended up in a pocket of obnoxious people—drunk people, loud talkers, adults waaaaay too old to be grinding on each other like that, and between that and the dreary weather, I think my positive show experience was over before it began. Most of those annoying people arrived only after Britain’s Nick Howard performed, so I did get an uninterrupted chance to enjoy at least part of the show. Nick was engaging—as far as an opening act goes, he did everything right. He chatted comfortably with the crowd, complimented the area (he joked about being able to see why so many presidents vacation in Maine), sang a few songs we knew (his cover song medley included “Wake Me Up” and “Save Tonight”), asked us to clap, whistle, and sing along, and didn’t play for too long. Well done, Nick. I especially liked his original songs “Can’t Break a Broken Heart” and “Falling for You.”

Nick Howard

Nick Howard

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I was impressed with the speedy set change (it being a school night and all), and Tristan Prettyman and her band took the stage in no time at all. I hadn’t seen her since 2011 at the Life is Good Festival in Canton, Massachusetts, and was glad to see her again. Her last album, Cedar + Gold, got a lot of play on long road trips in my car in 2012. It’s definitely a breakup album (this summer, my break up album was Sam Smith’s In the Lonely Hour) and was written about her broken engagement with Jason Mraz. Here’s Tristan performing a stripped-down version of “I Was Gonna Marry You” that she didn’t play at the show, since a lot has happened since then. Tristan told us she’d gotten married in August (her husband, Google Venture managing partner, Bill Maris, was in the crowd proudly taking photos). Her new EP, Back to Home, released the day before the show, is a much happier album, and Tristan told us she was playing these songs live for the first time on the City & Sand Tour with Eric. She joked about how all of her songs are about stupid men, and so she really didn’t have anything appropriate to play when she visited her friend’s sixth grade classroom, so she wrote a “namaste” song, “Open Up Your Eyes.” I was glad to hear “Say Anything,” “Madly,” and “My Oh My,” all songs that 98.9 WCLZ has played regularly for ages. Tristan surprised us with a fun cover of Iggy Azalea’s “Fancy” during her set, which had people happily singing along.

Tristan Prettyman

Tristan Prettyman

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The last time I saw Eric Hutchinson was a real treat. He told a ton of stories about his songs and interacted comfortably with the friendly crowd while playing stripped-down, acoustic songs—my ideal concert-going scenario. This show was different. Eric hopped up on stage with a full band and rocked from start to finish. He didn’t say a whole lot to the crowd, but he and his happy bandmates had great energy and put on a fun show. Eric has a lot of hits from his decade-plus-long career, and he played them all. The crowd was clearly excited to hear “Watching You Watch Him.” During “The Basement” he sampled a little Aretha, Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, and Amy Winehouse. It was a big hit with the crowd and Eric and the band really went all out on it.

Eric Hutchinson

Eric Hutchinson

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Loved seeing this camaraderie

Loved seeing this camaraderie

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Look at the fun they're having!

Look at the fun they’re having!

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Eric called Tristan up on stage and they did one of her songs, “Love Love Love,” together. He told us that the first time he heard that song, he listened to it on repeat for an entire two hour drive. Eric tested out the security of the big speaker on the floor right next to me and then hopped up onto it to start singing “OK, It’s Alright with Me.” I physically had to move to get out of his way. That’s how close to a performer I want to be during a show! (It’s also why I didn’t move to a new spot when I probably should have to get away from the folks I was standing around. Lesson learned.)

Tristan and Eric on her "Love Love Love"

Tristan and Eric on her “Love Love Love”

Eric up on the speaker right next to me. This is the kind of stage proximity I look for!

Eric up on the speaker right next to me. This is the kind of stage proximity I look for!

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I appreciated the way that Eric gleefully interacted with his band on stage. He took the time to introduce all of them and to give them time to highlight their skills, which they especially did during “You Don’t Have to Believe Me.” The show is clearly not all about him to him, and that’s great to see. Eric talked about getting dropped from his label years ago and using the money to make his 2008 album, Sounds Like This. His newest album, Pure Fiction, came out in April of 2014. Eric sampled Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off” and OutKast’s “Hey Ya!” during “A Little More,” one of his newer songs. I stayed through “Rock and Roll” and then decided to head home before the encore so I could be in bed before midnight on a school night. Eric’s so fun live. Next time I see him, I’ll try harder to bring my dancing shoes!

xo,

bree

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