Posted by Devin Weakland on 09/06 at 10:13 AM
Charlotte Sometimes and her pianist, Patrick Firth, took the stage, or the “carpet” as Charlotte called it, at 12:20 this past Friday at the first-floor lounge in the HUB-Robeson Center. Her performance was part of Student Programming Association’s (SPA) Noontime Concert Series, a weekly event that’s free for the public. The show had a coffeehouse feel, which created a relaxed atmosphere and more intimate connection between Charlotte and the audience.
Most of Charlotte’s recordings feature a full band (drums, other percussion, electric guitars, etc.) to create her signature indie pop/alternative rock sound. However, today she only had a piano and acoustic guitar backing up her vocals. This simplified version of her music gave the show a MTV Unplugged vibe. I’m a huge acoustic fan, so I appreciated this change of pace. Charlotte also implemented some scatting techniques in her songs, which made her performance pretty interesting.
Charlotte, dressed in a floral print shirt, skinny jeans, and cowboy boots, took the mic and started the show off with a bubbly “Hey everyone!” Then she opened with “Done” from her new album The Wait. The song was powerful and somewhat emotional, yet pleasant as she sang it with a smile. When the song ended, the audience responded with a loud applause accompanied with some cheers.
Her next song, called “Ooh Love,” is Charlotte’s “only song about really being in love.” Charlotte is a unique artist because she tells a story as she sings. Her raw lyrics combined with her facial expressions and hand gestures made me feel like she was sharing a life-altering, personal experience with me. I love how she is so invested in her lyrics. Her stage presence helped me pull me into the show.
After a few other numbers, Charlotte finally played my favorite song, “How I Could Just Kill a Man” from her album Waves and the Both of Us. She introduced the song by clarifying its meaning. “It’s really just about destroying someone’s soul, not actually killing someone,” Charlotte said. “We’ve all been there, right?” she asked. I, for one, could definitely relate. I sang along to the entire song.
The next part of the show really got the crowd going. Charlotte said she wanted to perform a cover of Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream.” People in the audience let out subtle, excited gasps at this announcement. Charlotte turned Katy Perry’s lyrics into her own song. “Teenage Dream” was transformed from a fun, pop tune into a simple song consisting of only piano chords and vocals. Honestly, I liked Charlotte’s version better than the original. This song attracted people to the lounge until every seat was filled. Students were left standing in the back, watching her sing.
After this song, Patrick left the “carpet” and Charlotte broke out her acoustic guitar to play her song “Ex Girlfriend Syndrome.” The acoustic version of this song reminded me of something by Regina Spektor. The lyrics were very descriptive and portrayed honest feelings that many of us have experienced during a rough break up. This song illustrated Charlotte’s ability to relate to her audience through common scenarios that those of younger generations frequently face.
Charlotte ended her set with a song about “being really mad.” It’s called “Bad Bad World” and is from her album Sideways. I liked how this song told the dark side of what it’s like to go through an adverse situation. These lyrics of the song really stood out to me: “Nobody knows when the dust will settle. Everybody says it’s going to get better.” She presented a very real sense of feeling sad and alone, and I appreciated how she didn’t sugarcoat it.
The end of the song was met with a loud applause. People were shouting “encore!” and yelling out song requests. Charlotte agreed to play “Toy Soldier,” which, she admitted, was a song she hadn’t played in a while. She forgot some parts of the song, but it was ok because the audience helped fill in the gaps by singing along. The whole crowd was so engaged in her performance.
After the show, audience members gathered in the back of the lounge to purchase her new album and to ask for her signature. Charlotte signed CDs, posters, T-shirts, purses, and even shoes. Overall, Charlotte’s musical talent and lively personality made for a great Noontime Concert. I’ll definitely be looking out for her next Penn State performance.
Author: Devin Weakland
Bio: Devin is a junior at Penn State double-majoring in print journalism and marketing with a minor in international business. Playing the piano since age six, Devin has come to love and appreciate the art of music. Her favorite genres include indie rock, techno and pop punk, but she also has a soft spot for acoustic stuff. You’ll almost always find her listening to Two Door Cinema Club, Vampire Weekend, Phoenix, Blink-182 or Ben Folds. In her spare time, Devin enjoys reading, writing and traveling.
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