Caroline Rose put on one of the most exciting shows I’ve seen at the 9:30 Club in recent times — visually compelling with great drama and terrific songs. Though they were, as they emphasized, working with a small but dedicated crew, they all did an incredible job of staging a truly dynamic performance.
On her earliest albums, the long Island native — who has since moved to Austin — leaned into her folk influences, but she has turned toward indie pop on her three most recent albums: 2018’s Loner, 2020’s Superstar, and this year’s The Art of Forgetting. Her songwriting, which has grown increasingly sophisticated, has been married to more complex and ambitious arrangements.
Fortunately, we were able to get some photos of the unique stage arrangement at this 9:30 Club show, which was breathtaking, on April 14. About midway through the set, while singing “The Kiss,” Rose came down from the stage and made her way through the crowd to climb up on the bar. There, she called for the crowd to catch her in a “trust fall,” and she fell backward off the bar into the crowd’s arms, bodysurfing back to the stage, where she finished the song.
Stream “The Kiss” by Caroline Rose on YouTube:
Another visually arresting aspect of the evening’s show was the display. Opening act Hammydown’s singer and guitarist, Abby, played in front of. It appeared to be made of some sort of stained glass or clear, colored plastic, through which different lights were projected. The change of color created a psychedelic illusion of motion, perfectly suited to the band’s ’60s garage act vibe. Though they weren’t really known to the audience — they haven’t released an album yet — they won the crowd over, getting them to make a lot of noise. They seemed to really enjoy themselves up there.
Rose is nothing if not self-aware. “If I ever stop crying,” she said, “I might stop writing songs.” I do not wish sadness on Caroline, but I love the songs, and I certainly hope there are more!
The set started with material from the latest album: “Love/Lover/Friend,” “Rebirth,” “Miami,” “Better Than Gold,” “Everywhere I Go I Bring The Rain,” and “The Doldrums.” That last one is, as you might expect from the title, a bit sad. But, then, most of the songs on the new album are at least kind of sad, which makes sense, given that it was written largely in response to the end of a relationship.
Watch the official music video for “Miami” by Caroline Rose on YouTube:
After “Cornbread,” Caroline moved on to the “greatest hits” part of the show, which included “Stockholm Syndrome,” “Tell Me What You Want,” “Florida Room,” “Love Song For Myself,” “Jill Says, “Where Do I Go From Here,” “More of The Same,” “Jeannie Becomes a Mom,” and “Feel The Way I want.” Dispensing with an encore, Rose and her band ended the show with “Do You Think We’ll Last Forever?”
I read somewhere that Caroline Rose was a “theater kid,” and that makes total sense after seeing their show. Admittedly, this is not the sort of thing I usually enjoy very much — I generally prefer sparsity in both my sound and visuals — but this was done so well, it’s hard not to appreciate what was put in front of you. It helps, of course, that the songs are extremely strong, and that Caroline can sing their ass off. Quite simply, this was one of the best, most exciting shows I’ve ever seen — not just this year, but ever.
Here are some photos of Hammydown opening for Caroline Rose at 9:30 Club on April 14, 2023. All pictures copyright and courtesy of Casey Vock. Look below for pix of Caroline Rose!
And here are some photo of Caroline Rose performing at 9:30 Club on April 14, 2023 — all pictures again copyright and courtesy of Casey Vock.