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Caroline Rose at Rickshaw Stop (Photo: Tan The Man)
Caroline Rose at Rickshaw Stop

Concert Review: Caroline Rose at Rickshaw Stop, San Francisco, June 15, 2018

With the long-awaited February release of her sophomore indie pop album Loner, singer-songwriter Caroline Rose added yet another milestone into the personal and professional renaissance quest she started a few years ago. “I embraced my queerdom,” per Rose’s website.

“For better or worse, I became a member of the modern world, [but it] turns out the modern world is terrifying.”

Her first album America Religious was decidedly different. “I felt a bit disillusioned with my music,” Rose said. “It didn’t sound like my personality.”

A few years of writing and living carefree (and not careless) helped solidify a growing confidence in herself and embracing what she loved doing: making music.

Rose did the whole South by Southwest gamut following Loner’s release earlier this year, which helped set both the tone (fun) and color palate (red) for her current album tour. Friday night’s headlining show (June 15, 2018) at Rickshaw Stop marked the first San Francisco gig with her backing band. Rose et al. made the most of the tiny stage, danced where they could, and got the crowd involved whenever possible, including some high fives to the lucky fans upfront.

“I might crowd surf [tonight],” Rose threatened. “There’s enough people in the audience.”

“But the sign says ‘no diving’ though,” retorted keyboardist Abbie Morin, which Rose pretended to not hear.

Rose didn’t crowd surf, but she did hop off the stage at one point, much to the dismay of her guitar which broke in the process. “We totally planned this,” she deadpanned as a bandmate grabbed a spare guitar.

To repeat: carefree, and unabashedly so.

As Rose performed uptempo gems like “Cry” and “More of the Same,” she spoke about the history of some songs, the band’s stuffed cat, and a nose-less Elmo piñata sitting on the stage’s background. The story of the latter was quite fun and poignant, which involved a nonchalant attempt to obtain free parking during SXSW (I don’t want to spoil the entire story, so please attend a show for the full emotional arc).

I generally appreciated the banter. Some artists never bother to address the audience in any way other than the cliché “How we doing (insert city name)?” while a few bad apples don’t even do that much. The banter gives you a small doorway into the artist’s world.

Caroline Rose at Rickshaw Stop (Photo: Tan The Man)
Caroline Rose’s Elmo piñata at Rickshaw Stop

However, at some point, I realized Rose might have been trying to prolong the show as much as possible. Give the paying audience its money’s worth? Okay. But, Loner only clocks in at a little past 30 minutes, and I didn’t recall the band performing anything off Rose’ debut LP. There’s only so many times you repeat the choruses of the infectious “Soul No. 5” or extend “Bikini” with jam solos.

Sure, there was a flute solo that turned into a full-blown crowd singalong of Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On” that was unexpectedly pleasant.

And yes, the cover of Britney Spears’ criminally underappreciated “Toxic” was a highlight.

I guess I’m just bitter. There was no—I repeat—no encore. How could you, Caroline? How dare you? Don’t worry, you’ll have the next show to make up for it.

About Tan The Man

Tan The Man writes mostly about film and music. He has previously covered events like Noise Pop, Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival, South By Southwest, TBD Festival, and Wizard World Comic Con.

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