Singer-songwriter Colbie Caillat played at the Variety Playhouse on Oct. 19, with opening acts Trevor Hall and Howie Day.
It seemed the crowd was mostly thirty-something women and the people who love them. Caillat’s music is not specific to the female experience, but it definitely speaks to women more than men.
Trevor Hall’s half-baked dreadlocks and affected speech are only appreciable in a small niche. He never musically did anything particularly interesting.
The sound of his music is rather bland and unoriginal. He plays acoustic, island-inspired music prolific in tropical areas. His voice is surprisingly good, albeit limited. What he can do he does well, but there is not much that he can do.
Howie Day was second on tage. He too plays pretty bland acoustic music, but he is very aware of his medium, which he exploits very well. He played an electric acoustic guitar, which he knows is different than an acoustic guitar. He played with the electric part of the guitar by hitting the guitar itself in different places to make a drum-like sound.
Just by making loops with the guitar, he can make music beyond what a regular acoustic guitar can. He recorded short loops of him playing and banging on his guitar and layered them.
This was very entertaining and it was really neat to be able to see him record a brand new song, live, and hear the final product. He used the electric acoustic guitar and the speaker system to record and play a song that would otherwise not exist. It was a cool art moment.
Day’s set was an interesting combination of boring acoustic music and awesomely weird art moments. It is clear where he succeeds.
Caillat did not immediately come out on stage and instead let her band play around for a while first. This was a very pronounced characteristic of her show; she did almost anything to distract the audience from herself. She included her band as much as possible into the act so she could hide.
During instrumental breaks, which were very long, she would wander around the stage and almost physically hide behind her band.
She said she used to hate performing, but now she loves it and “looks forward” to each concert. She does not seem to genuinely enjoy herself very much, though. Whenever she was not specifically talking to the audience or reacting to something unpredictable, her entire presence seemed forced. Even the heartfelt confessions all were somehow strained. She never really seemed to mean much of what she said.
She also seemed uncomfortable with what she was wearing. She acted like she usually wears casual, comfortable clothes without makeup. She seemed dolled-up and not really representing her personal style.
It is very possible this could be because she hates performing and so practices a lot to make sure things go smoothly. Her movements and dancing seemed practiced and routine, and her banter with bandmates seemed tired, all leaving that something special to be desired.
The audience wants a unique experience, but instead was served an iteration of a show well-planned.
Whenever she was in the spotlight, she never really came out of her shell. She always seemed to be just a little too far away. She failed to connect with the audience. Some audience members, however, really wanted that connection and would have been satisfied with anything. So unless the audience met her more than halfway, there was too great a distance between Caillat and the audience to really bring her across the footlights.
She had a lot of trouble singing. She sang by listening and blending. She was helped several times by backup singers back onto track. She was all over the place and was most confident when she was with the band (behind them, really).
Caillat played guitar on one song and ukulele on another. For being such a mediocre singer, she should have played more.
Trevor Hall performed well, but was musically bland. Howie Day was solid musically and interesting personally. He genuinely talked to the audience and gave them a unique experience. Colbie Caillat was shy and reserved and is not a showman by any means. She really only pleased fanatics and did not appeal beyond her fanbase.