Voegele brings big stage presence to small venue

Photo courtesy of Interscope

25 shows in 25 different cities across 18 states over the span of just 40 days: it is safe to say Kate Voegele has a busy month-and-a-half ahead of her.

After a hiatus from touring since opening for Natasha Bedingfield’s Less is More tour in 2011, Voegele is now headlining her own Wild Card tour, beginning in Virginia just last week and concluding in Indiana at the end of February. Although her show in Atlanta on Jan. 22 was only the third stop after a dry spell of nearly four years, Voegele seemed as cool, calm and collected as ever in front of a crowd at The Earl.

Compared to the majority of top Atlanta venues, The Earl boasts a relatively small music room—the max capacity for the East Atlanta scene is roughly 300—but, the ambiance is undoubtedly powerful. Plus, it creates an intimacy between artist and listener unrivaled by most larger-scale sites.

The opener for the night featured an artist with a similar success story to Voegele’s own unique rise to fame. While Voegele was essentially discovered through video uploads on her MySpace page, Leroy Sanchez achieved recognition via YouTube, where his videos accumulated over 42 million views. An entirely self-taught musician hailing from Vitoria, Spain, Sanchez quickly gained a small but dedicated following since his move stateside three years ago. His pure voice, humbling charm and passion for music led him to sign a record deal with Grammy award-winning producer and songwriter Jim Jonsin in 2010, and his first single was just released on iTunes on Jan. 27.

Sanchez’s first Atlanta show provided a mixed set with a combination of original melodies and popular covers. His soft vocals, akin to the likes of Ben Rector or Jason Mraz, filled the venue with mostly melancholy hits, although Sanchez joked, “I promise I’m a really happy guy.” He additionally covered Mario’s “You Should Let Me Love You” and Sam Smith’s “I’m Not the Only One,” which were popular sing-alongs among the audience members.

With a still-energized crowd, Kate Voegele took the stage by storm with one of her well-known hits, “Manhattan from the Sky.” Voegele—who has three chart-topping studio albums and three additional EP’s to her name—achieved perhaps most fame from her four season-stint on the popular television drama, “One Tree Hill.” Her character, Mia Catalano, was also a singer-songwriter on the scripted show, which allowed Voegele to perform her songs, promote her album and achieve a large fan base amongst the teen soap opera’s dedicated viewership.

Voegele’s set list featured a blend of old and new songs, including “99 Times,” “Sweet Silver Lining” and a beautiful rendition of “Cups.” One endearing moment came when Sanchez rejoined Voegele on stage for a duet of “Caught up in You,” a song off of her newest EP.

Voegele took one moment to pull out a lyric from “Sandcastles,” a line which has served as the “slogan” of her entire tour. She said, “I realized that the line ‘I do believe a song can heal me’ was resonating with a lot of fans…And it’s really true. I’ve had a lot of songs that have gotten me through some crazy times. So I’m going to play some for you.”

Voegele was also able to show her personality to the intimate crowd. Almost every break between songs was filled with conversation between Voegele and her fans, as she continually reiterated her gratefulness to the loyal ones that stuck around throughout her years away from music.

As the night grew late, Voegele announced, “This is the part of the show where a rock band would do a big encore…but it’s kind of awkward for a chick with a guitar to chill backstage and be like, ‘Do they want to hear another?’ So, I’m just going to play another.” The show ended on an eerily lovely acoustic rendition of her classic, “Forever and Almost Always.”

Luckily for her loyal fans, it is likely that Kate Voegele’s previous hiatus will not be repeated anytime soon. The Wild Card tour comes after the recent Nov. 2014 release of her EP, Wild Card, and precedes the much-anticipated upcoming release of her fourth studio album, set for later this season.