Report by Sarah
Quick summary, "For Everything A Reason" was on the setlist, but not played. Not sure if this was miked, but I was at the front, and I heard her say she didn't want to do it, before suggesting going straight on to "Spanish Burn". Great gig but short with technical troubles. Tiniest venue I've ever seen her in.
Review By Em
Last night I headed to Williamsburg to see British songstress Carina Round at Pete's Candy Store. Having never seen a show there, I have to say I was a little surprised at the tiny, long, cramped space which is really not conducive to watching shows. The equipment wasn't helping Carina's cause either, buzzing, distorting and even shocking her when she got too close to the microphone. I think I liked her best when she went completely acoustic. Carina has a strong, versatile voice and a lot of charisma, but I did think that she could use a little work on her songwriting, because it didn't really strike me as in any way unique or different. She is definitely an artist that has a lot of potential and I am looking forward to watching her musical talent grow and develop.
Review By Nick Haycock
Getting to Pete’s Candy Store to hear Carina Round, Lauren Smith, and Sasha Dobson turned out to be a nightmare. As I walked from Lorimer station, I realized that I had forgotten my ID and had to dash back to Manhattan to retrieve it. I arrived a bit late for Sasha Dobson’s set. Luckily, the show was also running late, and I barely missed anything. This was my first visit to Pete’s Candy Store, a bar with a small stage in the back room. To call the venue “intimate” is an understatement. It comfortably seats about twenty and looks as if someone had built a stage in a living room where the fireplace might sit. Pete’s Candy store has an almost vaudevillian feel with vintage playing cards featuring nude women painted on the walls. A crimson and gold color scheme decorates the stage which is lit by a row of light bulbs extending from a gold colored arch. Pete's is the perfect place for experienced musicians to connect with avid fans and try out new material.
Sasha Dobson (centered in New York) is mainly known as a jazz vocalist and as a singer who combines Brazilian and American Jazz. Her parents were both Jazz musicians, and she has been performing since she was sixteen. She wore a frayed fedora, a small tattoo visible on her upper arm. Her voice was warm and sultry as she accompanied herself on guitar with the help of a second guitarist, Steve. I came into the show as Dobson kicked off “Didn’t Change a Thing”-- performed with minimal instrumentation and sounding jazzy and clean. The set was a relaxed, informal, affair with Dobson sipping a mojito between songs, and passing a metal red water bucket around the room to collect tips. Dobson ended the set with “Family” a sweet and folksy tune and left the stage.
Next up was Lauren Smith, a singer songwriter based in Brooklyn. Smith looks 15 but has been writing and performing songs for years. She is a regular at Pete's Candy Store and other New York City venues. Smith was accompanied by a drummer, a bassist, a guitar player, and a keyboardist. Her rather average sized band was too large for the tiny stage forcing the guitar player to perform from a chair in the audience. The band provided a jazzy backing for Smith’s creative but sometimes unpolished songwriting, with keyboardist Alex Schecter’s trickling arpeggios a highlight. Smith’s greatest assets are her imagination and sense of humor. These were displayed in the “New Song Segment” a part of the show in which the band performs an original song based on a character created by the audience. Smith’s song about Moshe the vampire novelist was artfully written, and easily the best song I heard her perform. On “Yesterday’s Garden” there were several lyrics that demanded immediate revision such as “How did a Girl with a thumb so green/ end up with a man who has grown so mean” (or something similar to that anyway.) Smith sparkles, but needs to further develop her skills as a lyricist.
When Carina Round took the stage, the tiny room was packed with several people sitting on the floor. Round, an accomplished musician from the UK, has something like a cult following. She kicked things off with “Please Don’t Stop” playing electric guitar along with her keyboardist who provided sparse, threatening, atmospheric notes to compliment Round’s singing. The song ended with Round’s commanding, shrieking vocals reaching a terrifyingly high decibel. On “Thief in the Sky” Round ended the song with an interesting interplay between her own live voice, and an echoing, prerecorded version of herself. On “Do You” Carina sang “I'll scratch her fucking eyes out” referring to the future loves of a former flame. Carina’s raw stage demeanor, strange but poetic imagery and sometimes alarming subject matter can make her seem deranged--- a hot psycho who knows how to write a great song.