A year and a half ago, Chelsea Cutler played an intimate show in a small, albeit crowded, room at The Loft. On Tuesday, Feb. 18, she returned to Atlanta. An unrelenting touring schedule, a Billboard charting full length album and a Late Night performance later, her second performance brought the same vulnerable, impassioned energy — except this time to a sold out crowd at the much larger Variety Playhouse.
The crowd’s anticipation was palpable as the lights cut out, only to reveal a message across the LED screens on stage: “23 years. 8,935 days. 201,480 hours. And I still have a lot of questions.” Videos of highlights of Cutler’s monumental last year played in the background. The montage echoed the unique struggles and beautiful highs of being a young adult in today’s world. The clips highlighted the recurring themes throughout Cutler’s recently released album “How To Be Human.”
Chelsea Cutler’s energy on stage was contagious; she bounced across the floor and involved every part of the audience. Her band’s drummer and keyboardist, Gavin Chops and JT Becker, helped to create a hard hitting intensity on stage that complimented Chelsea Cutler’s ethereal voice.
Despite the near constant energy, it was the times when Chelsea took a break from the liveliness of her performance that she connected most with the crowd. At one point she took a seat, perched at the edge of the stage and crooned honestly about the ups and downs of a past relationship. This honesty struck a chord and resonated with everyone. Maybe more impressive than Chelsea’s earnest and vulnerable storytelling was when the crowd sang along to every word of a song that was released less than two weeks before the show.
Halfway through the set, her band exited the stage, leaving Chelsea Cutler with a keyboard, a spotlight, and a barrage of thunderous “woos” and “I love you’s” from the audience. The audience erupted after they recognized the haunting opening piano notes of “you were good to me.” While the album version of the song includes vocals from friend and contemporary Jeremy Zucker, who trades heartfelt barbs back and forth with Cutler, she took the reins in the live solo version. Cutler simply paused where Zucker’s lines should have been, allowing the audience to fill the empty space with the poignant lyrics. After the song, in a moment of absolute graciousness, her voice shook as she thanked the crowd for singing along to every word.
Candid moments like this accentuated the night and reminded the audience that Cutler is freshly twenty-three; she is living through the same stories as her audience, just with the tact and grace to tell them masterfully through song and performance.
It is incredible how much changed in a year and a half for Chelsea Cutler. The venues might be bigger, the audience louder but Chelsea Cutler retains the ability to deliver her uniquely sincere brand of pop music in a compelling way that makes massive venues feel just as intimate and personal as a college dorm room. Catch Chelsea Cutler on her “How To Be Human Tour,” or listen to her latest album of the same name across all online platforms and streaming services.