Welcome back to part two of my recent rock 'n' roll road trip to DC. If you missed the first part, just scroll on down and get caught up. I'll wait for you.
OK, ready? Cool. As you now know, we weren't planning on a second show during the trip, but saw the poster above telling us that Caroline Rose was playing and we were all over it. It's serendipitous in a number of ways. First, we only recently learned of Rose, but really liked what we heard. Next, we found out that she was playing in Philly on Friday night, but we were already heading to DC. To find out she was playing in DC on Saturday and that we could modify our evening plans to accommodate the show, well, it was just fate.
We aren't the only ones just discovering Rose. She had previously released a couple of folk/roots albums, and then changed up her style with her most recent release Loner. The new album is poppy, filled with sarcastic and irreverent songs full of humor, and quickly got notice from the alternative music scene. The songs use a lot of synthesizers, but also a lot of guitar. Trust me on this: she is good.
And the girl is smart. She graduated from Wellesley with an architecture degree. The stage set that was on display in DC was really cool with a lot of interesting touches (I'll come back to this later) and must be inspired by her sense of design. Or maybe that's complete b.s., and she is just funky and funny. Whatever, she put the funk into functional and incorporated a lot of props into her set that instantly told us that she is a different and interesting personality.
I have to tell you a bit more about our adventures before I get into the show details. I hope you don't mind, but if so, just skim this part and head on down to the meat.
As I told you last time, we saw the show advertised at a club along the Wharf in DC. I tried to buy tickets on the spot, but the bouncer told me that the box office was closed, so we took off. Logging on the next morning, I got on TicketFly and cadged our tickets. I was strongly considering driving down to the Wharf to catch the show, but ultimately decided to Uber there. That was a good decision. It turns out that the show was at a completely different theater far from the Wharf, and I would have been one pissed off hombre had I parked the car and found out I was miles from my intended destination.
But it all turned out well because the venue was a recently renovated Miracle Theater in southeast on Capitol Hill. The original Miracle opened about 100 years ago, was primarily a vaudeville and movie house, and appears to have served the African American community (based on the photos around the place).
Anyway, the place was renovated, and now shows movies, has live music, and also has church services. I know, its an interesting mix, sort of like the First Unitarian Church in Philly. I took a couple of photos so you could get a flavor of the place. Check out the RED interior - it impacted Caroline Rose because she usually hangs a big red banner behind the stage, but since it was red, they thought it would blend in too much. Instead, they opened up the curtain, exposed the movie screen and showed a crackling yule fire as the background - hence the pictures of fire in my concert photos.
Enough of the venue and my adventures getting there. How was the show? It was really fun. Opening was the band And The Kids who were quite entertaining and had some really good tracks. I took a number of pictures of them (which is unusual for me - I generally don't waste much time on openers), and you can check them out below.
Finally, it was time for the main event. We pushed our way into the standing room only space before the stage and ended up in the second row center. Does the Kid know how to live or what? This gave us ample time to check out the stage prior to the show. There was a synthesizer with the words "KEY BORE D" on it. A stuff cat sitting on top of the synth. Fake roses twisted up the microphone stand. And lots of other flotsam and jetsam around the stage.
Finally, the band came out. I didn't catch the names of everyone, but her "best friend" Abby plays the guitar and synth (and can move on stage, let me tell you). There is also a female bassist who was totally into the show, bouncing and jumping around the stage. And the only male was the drummer (the "balls of the band" we were told), and he was cool enough to let Caroline tell us he wears shorts while performing and making him show us his legs - pictures below. And Caroline played around a lot. Yes, that's her on her back cranking the guitar, and yes, that's her playing a mean kazoo. Oh, and chugging a beer, too. Fun!
And then there is Caroline, front and center. She is clearly comfortable on stage, and keeps up the red theme with her red track outfit. The band immediately ripped into songs from Loner and had the crowd way into it right from the start. Caroline's humor is evident in her stage demeanor. At one point, she picked up the stuffed cat, and messed around with some mechanical thing on its side until it finally "meowed" for the crowd. That brought a pretty big laugh.
But it's the music that really hit home. Songs like More of the Same, a riff on the lack of individuality among people at a party, Soul No. 5, a bouncy rave up that had the crowd dancing and grooving, and Bikini, a hilarious goof. Other songs, like the power pop of Cry allow Rose to express the torment espoused at women, but in a way that ultimately brushes off the invective. Rose clearly has punk influences (the 70s style stuff from the UK), but also pop influences (think Justin Timberlake or Britney Spears). Her lyrics are witty, wry, urbane, and full of the struggles that haunt us all, such as loneliness, belonging and anxiety. Perfect BRP material.
But the girl also has serious stage chops. This is one fun live show, with all of the band members contributing to the rollicking good vibes flowing toward the crowd. Regular readers know that I love bands that not only play their songs, but also perform. Think Low Cut Connie toned down a bit, and you get Caroline Rose's idiosyncratic show. How unique is it? Well, the only cover song that she played was Britney Spear's Toxic, a song that doesn't normally register on the cool-o-meter of indie rock fans, but that was not only accepted but embraced by the hipster crowd in DC. You gotta have presence and credibility to pull that off.
It was a pretty quick show, clocking in at less than 1.5 hours, but it was a highly entertaining night. Rose thanked everyone for coming out, noting that this was the last show on the band's current tour (and making that two nights in a row for "last shows of the tour" for us), and saying that she had the best job in the world. I think she means it: the road suits her and she seems to have quite a future ahead of her. Let's hope the next musical output from Caroline matches the wall-to-wall quality of Loner and then we'll be off to the races.
Up next for me is a return trip to Union Transfer for a triple bill headlined by the pride of Scranton, the Menzingers. I need a punk/pop fix like you wouldn't believe, and that should be just the ticket. Then I'll close out November with yet another arena show, and you'll be surprised to hear who I'm checking out this time. Come back soon and I'll fill you in.
In the meantime, thanks for reading and keep coming back for more. If you like what you see, tell your friends - and let them know that it's just fun here with no commercials trying to sell you things. Got it? Damn, you're good. See you later.
My name is Bill, and I live in the greater Philadelphia area. I love music, and I have a lot of opinions. This site is primarily focused on music, but sometimes I get off track. I hope you enjoy.