Caroline Smith serenaded a large, standing-room-only crowd at High Noon Saloon on April 13.
Formerly the lead vocalist of the indie folk band, Caroline Smith & The Good Night Sleeps, Smith has created a more powerful and sensual sound after starting her solo career. She now showcases smooth indie-pop, R&B style vocals and feminist, self-confident lyrics that made each person in the Madison audience, no matter their gender, go wild.
The Minneapolis-born artist stopped at various cities in the Midwest for her Giving Myself Away tour; this was the title of her opening number, and, possibly, the name of her next album that is (hopefully) going to be released by late 2016. She also belted-out tunes from her first solo album that was released in 2013, Half About Being a Woman.
The multi-talented musician played guitar for most of the show. She was backed by her stellar band: Mina Moore (backup vocals), Eric Mayson (keyboard and backup vocals), Jesse Schuster (bass), and Arlen Peiffer (drums).
Lex Allen, a pop singer from Milwaukee, opened the show. His stage presence radiated through the venue; he hammed it up on the stage, cracked jokes, and had a good ol’ time while performing fun, danceable ditties. Madison-based DJ Boyfriend spun the music for Allen and inspired everyone in the crowd to jam along with her quirky dancing. The duo performed songs that were learned quickly and encouraged the audience to sing along after hearing the lyrics a few times. Songs about young love, like the spunky track “Puppy Love,” comprised Allen’s set, and hilarious, relatable tunes about over-using social media, like “Taps for Likes” kept people, including the artists, moving the whole time.
Smith and her band took the stage shortly after Allen’s energizing set. From the first note, her performance was perfect. She sounded flawless and even better than on her record. She sprinkled small, classic choreography into her songs; her and backup vocalist, Moore, who she recognized as her real-life best friend, treated the audience to an adorable dance break in the middle of a tune. Smith was humble during her set and repeatedly acknowledged her band and thanked the audience.
Smith gave words of wisdom to the crowd between songs, urging men to appreciate the women in their lives, and telling women to love themselves and other such encouragements. I was lucky enough to be in the front row, and I could almost feel her confidence. She played every song off of Half About Being a Woman, and several new jams. The highlight of the evening was probably the closing song, “Walking Off Strong,” one of the most empowering tracks from her album. The artist and her band were completely into their performance, and so was the audience. Smith reached out (literally) to attendees and had several people sing the words “I’m walking off strong,” and boasted about how amazing everyone in the audience was that night.
The show did not end there. After barely waiting to be called back for an encore, Smith came back alone. She sat at the keyboard for the first time and sang a lovely ballad from her upcoming album that exposed her indie-folk roots and was reminiscent of when her named preceded “The Good Night Sleeps.” The band then reunited and played the album’s final track “Child of Moving On” before saying goodbye for good.
Smith, being the down-to-earth artist she is, came out into the audience shortly after the show’s conclusion. She happily took pictures and signed merchandise for fans.
To say I enjoyed the show would be an understatement. Smith has been on my list of must-see concerts for several years, so I went to the show with high expectations, and they were exceeded. Smith, Allen, and their backup artists were all remarkable performers. It was evident in each person on the small High Noon Saloon stage that they loved what they were doing and were simply having a good time. Smith will, without a doubt, become hugely popular very soon, and I will be happy to say that I got to see her do this intimate show and chat with her personally when she does.