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Caroline Rose @ Club Cafe (September 11, 2019)

Oh look, another horribly belated blog post! I’m skipping a few other recaps to get here, but c’mon… Caroline Rose always takes priority.

September’s show at Club Cafe was the band’s first headlining Pittsburgh set since March 2018, where they and I first met and our ardent love affair began. One could say things have picked up since then, if Caroline’s follower count is any indication (7k pre-LONER versus 21k as of this posting).

Caroline claims to have a “Pittsburgh curse”—see this tweet in reference to the aforementioned March 2018 show—though you wouldn’t be able to tell from the sold-out crowd and the several eager yinzers who brought Yuenglings (read: Pennsylvania water) to the stage immediately upon request.

Seriously, y’all, someone printed a banner with Caroline’s face on it. That’s painfully Pittsburgh in a way I can’t quite articulate.

There’s not much I can say about this band that I haven’t already said. The Club Cafe show was very much in line with every other Caroline Rose gig I’ve been to: shenanigans ensued, tequila was consumed (on my part anyway), much fun was had by all.

Club Cafe marked their second-to-last headlining gig of the year, and then it’s full speed ahead to the new album in early 2020(ish). If the “little taste” they’ve been playing live is any indication, it’s going to rip.

So who knows how long it’ll be before the next show? Only time will tell. This band deserves a break more than anything, so for as eager as I am for new music, I’ll keep spinning LONER a few hundred times more to keep myself occupied in the meanwhile.

P.S. - Someone bring batteries for poor Chelsea. Her onstage sass is sorely missed.

Soccer Mommy / Kevin Krauter @ Mr. Smalls Theatre (July 12, 2019)

I promised that I’d catch up on some missing show recaps and dammit, I’m here to DELIVER.

Show number two for Pittsburgh City Paper was Soccer Mommy, the stage moniker of Nashville wunderkind Sophie Allison. Like Mitski before her, Sophie went from playing a 250-capacity former Pittsburgh lesbian bar in 2018 to playing an 800-capacity former Pittsburgh church in 2019. Which maybe says less about the artists in question than it does the City of Pittsburgh’s taste in music venues, but hey, that’s neither here nor there.

Sophie was sick the night of this show, to the point where she couldn’t quite manage the trademark “ooohs” in “Cool,” but that didn’t deter her from putting on a great performance. The audience was all too happy to lend a hand and fill in wherever she couldn’t.

What I love about Sophie is how utterly unpretentious she is. Her shows carry echoes of the kind of dreamy bedroom vibe where she made her first recordings as Soccer Mommy. Listening to her perform feels comfortable, conversational, like you’re at a sleepover sharing “chill but kinda sad” songs with a good friend.

The personal highlight of the evening, for me, came when I was shooting from the balcony as the band left Sophie to perform a few songs solo. A few chords into “Still Clean,” a song which unmistakably inhabits the sadder spectrum of breakup anthem, the older woman next to me started to tear up. And alone on the balcony, she kept on quietly crying the whole way through the song.

I’ve shared this anecdote a few times now and have worried each time that it might come off as disingenuous, or worse, mocking, when it’s actually quite the opposite. I found it to be a genuinely beautiful moment that illustrated how music can connect us, keep us going even through our pain.

I felt that, sis, I really did. And wherever you are in the world, I want you to know that I’m rooting for you.

And then there’s Kevin Krauter, an artist I was sure I didn’t know until he opened his set with “Rollerskate” and I had a distinct moment of “WAIT A MINUTE, this is my JAM!”, and ended up feeling the music so hard that I almost forgot to take pictures. But don’t worry, I recovered. I’m a ~professional~, remember.

Two more shows to catch up on now before a whole slew of good stuff through the rest of September. High-ho, Silver, AWAY.

Eat, sleep, wake

Despite my best efforts over the years, I’ve never managed to train my body to become an early riser. I’m a stubbornly sleepy person by nature—as a fifth grader, I generally refused to get out of bed in the mornings until my mother threatened to dump ice water on my head—and no amount of pre-bedtime planning or morning yoga in my adult life has been enough to get me hopping out of bed early of my own free will.

When I can get up for them, though, there are few things I love more than a good foggy morning.

I like to walk into work when I can, a practice which quickly became one of my favorite activities when I first moved to Squirrel Hill in 2017. The forty-five minutes it takes to get from my apartment to Oakland wakes me up, clears my head, gives me time to catch up on some podcasts or listen to new albums. And on a morning like today, it provides a great opportunity to take photos along the way.

Traversing fog is like walking through a dream. It might be my favorite way to interact with the world—where everything is quiet and vaguely mysterious, where the familiar becomes unfamiliar, where it’s possible to be alone but not lonely.

Days are noticeably shorter now, and the trees around Oakland and Squirrel Hill are starting to show the slightest tint of orange. The changing seasons doesn’t bode well for my efforts to get up earlier… but maybe it’ll make for more foggy mornings, which could be a worthwhile trade-off. We’ll see.

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