Welcome to the April and May edition of The Cauldron’s monthly concert roundup series, reviewing and recapping the previous month’s entertainment offerings. Want to add your experiences to future articles? Contact us.
April 29th, 2022 with Addison Grace and Tessa Violet
Cavetown is the stage name of Robin Skinner, bedroom pop singer-songwriter from England. “The son of a professional flautist and Cambridge University’s director of music,” Skinner’s musical talent is no surprise, and he has released four albums since 2013, when he began releasing music at age 14.
This sold out tour is the latest chapter in his music career, and the packed Agora Ballroom was full of lifelong listeners and new fans alike, myself in the latter group.
The opening acts had strong cohesion, with Addison Grace providing a mellow acoustic introduction, and Tessa Violet a proper hype up. Violet’s live vocals were on point, and her hits were big enough to carry a headlining show of her own, including “YES MOM” and “Crush.”
Before long, Skinner took to the stage with his band to perform his lengthy set, which incorporated songs from his entire career.
Notable in Skinner’s songwriting is that the songs are long (at least relative to the pop trend to keep songs under three minutes). With many tracks clocking in five or more minutes, this enables another distinctive quality of Skinner’s songwriting: his storytelling and character building.
Fan favorite “Lemon Boy” tells the story of a sentient lemon, the personification of mental illness. The extended metaphor continues for the duration of the song, very rarely wavering from this character he created. Likewise, “Boys Will Be Bugs,” released in 2018, tells the story of an angsty teen navigating toxic masculinity.
This exploration of angst and mental illness was a common theme throughout the night, with sentimental songs, including a ukulele ballad, making up much of the set. “Home” was a standout among these.
The show ended with Cavetown’s biggest hit to date, 2015’s “Devil Town.” The live version is significantly different from the studio release, as Skinner’s voice is completely new 7 years since the song’s recording, due to his transition. Indeed, the show was an incredibly safe space for young transgender people to see a successful and thriving role model, which is especially important due to the recent legislative attacks on their wellbeing. The love and energy in the room was incredibly apparent.
May 4th, 2022 with The Brook & The Bluff
California native Ashe was my final concert this semester, and a solid pick to close out this series for the year.
The show opened with The Brook & The Bluff, a four-piece indie band from Alabama that perfectly set the tone for the evening with a number of high energy danceable songs.
The set design, a simple white arch with projection mapped to it, allowed Ashe to pull the focus. From the very start, her vocal talent was apparent, but especially in “Someone to Lose“. Her voice was given additional support from a violin player in her band, giving the live experience a unique quality.
Throughout the show, Ashe’s genuine connection to her fans was incredibly apparent, such as when she sang her song “Serial Monogamist” acapella as a special request from a fan not usually on the setlist, as well as when she paused the show mid-song to ensure an audience member received the medical attention they needed. Ashe was a true professional, concerned with tailoring a great experience for everyone there down to the last details.