Smile Politely

Votolato: clear and earnest

Saturday’s show at Mike ‘N Molly’s was like an exercise in less is more musicianship. With a pair of solo artists performing their own intimate renditions on folk music the concert was always a gamble between intimacy and dullness. Luckily for those in attendance, Rocky Votolato and CALLmeKAT were bright and cheery, creating an engaging performance with hardly anything going on.

Danish singer/songwriter Katrine Ottosen, aka CALLmeKAT, began the evening with her electro-folk compositions. She was a real marvel of a performer for any number of reasons. One of the most amazing things about her performance, to me, was that she could sing so clearly and beautifully despite the thick Danish accent that colored her speaking voice. The way singing eliminates accents never ceases to amaze me, but not having an accent was not the only amazing part of CALLmeKAT’s performance.More amazing than her lack of an accent was Ottosen’s sublime soprano voice. Her delicate voice soared above her synthesizers, hitting brilliant highs and only hinted at breaking up – which matched the tenor of her songs wonderfully. The songs themselves were a wonder as well. Her set was lively, relying on original material as well as covers of Britney Spears and The Kinks (“Toxic” and “Strangers”, respectively). CALLmeKAT’s stage set up was a maze of synths and pedals, and when she played it seemed like she could hit the lows, mids and highs all at once. She worked her spindly fingers over the synths expertly, keeping in perfect time with the drum machine that plinked and popped in the background.

Though her electro-folk would seem somewhat incompatible with Votolato’s mellow acoustic sound, she is a magnificent songwriter and provided a nice lead in to the headliner.

Rocky Votolato was, of course, who everyone came out to see and he did not disappoint. Though he has been performing nearly nonstop the past two months there was hardly a trace of fatigue in the singer’s voice. Votolato’s vocal chords did not sound brittle like Ottosen’s, but rang out clearly and earnestly through Mike ‘N Molly’s.

True to his word, Votolato played a wide variety of songs from his seven album discography, not leaning too heavily on his latest release and providing some chances for sing-a-longs. He specifically requested a sing-a-long, in fact, to break up the reverent silence that took over as he sang. The crowd joined him on “Goldfield”, from his Makers album, lifting the chorus above his dark cherry stained Guild Concert size acoustic guitar.

Even before the sing-a-long, however, Votolato performed his songs energetically. He propelled his songs out of his punk rock power stance into the appreciative audience, mixing in harmonica to add another layer to his guy-and-a-guitar appeal.

At the end of his set fans could not just let him leave, so he graciously played one final songs before meeting and greeting with those in attendance. It was a fitting end to an intimate concert, having the songwriter wander into the audience and show how genuinely he appreciated them being there.

All photos by Chris D. Davies. To see the entire album, head over to our Facebook page.

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