Josh Rouse - Live at the Red Room

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Album: Live @ the Red Room
Artist: Josh Rouse
The solo acoustic show is always a tough path to choose, even when you are as talented as Josh Rouse. After the hype about hearing Josh was touring with disposable string quartets and seeing his amazing performance on KRCW, I was pretty excited to see him on stage with a cello, and some violins. Couple the fact he was playing with Rocky Votolato, the stage was set for a great show.

What actually occurred was a goat rodeo, none of which could have been fixed by Josh. First we have the venue – The Red Room. The Red Room is a chotched out dance bar that hosts shows on occasion. It’s a far enough walk to make you reconsider going, especially when the crowd consists of huge dudes wear small shirts and girls wearing even smaller skirts. Most nights, the beer on tap is red bull, and the club opens up the doors at 10 PM. That means any concert has to start early; really early.

That is fine. I’m a fan of the early show. I don’t want to be standing for 6 hours, especially to hear a talented six-string samurai in a somewhat intimate setting. The problem with the early show was that the venue decided to tell the paper and those calling in the show started at 8:30PM. Yet somehow, when we showed up at 8:45PM, Rocky was done and Josh was finishing his first song. WTF? This made me a bit salty, because I was excited to hear Rocky play.

My first observation was that Josh was huge in the “balding, older men, who play air drums” crowd. I had no idea if the venue would be packed or dead, but Josh drew in some very hyped up fans, which made the show even better (at first). As he started playing songs from his latest two albums, the crowd was – ba ba ba ba - loving it. He sounded amazing. Some artists can replicate their CD sound effortlessly, and Josh is one of those people. He effortlessly floated between songs off the new album (Givin’ It Up, Summertime, It Looks Like Love), Nashville (Streetlights) and 1972 (Love Vibration). It’s easy to forget how long Josh has been making records, until you hear people freak out over his older work.

Halfway through the set, Josh called up “his friend”, Luke Doucet to play a few songs, including the great – Winter in the Hamptons. Luke’s solos and finger picking added some fullness to the tracks and broke up the set nicely.

Unfortunately, Josh is an artist that simply likes to play without engaging the audience, and in the venue, as more and more people started talking, it became less intimate and the audience noise kept getting louder.

As a final treat, Josh brought up his girlfriend, Paz Suay (who did the lovely artwork for the new record as well) to sing The Man Who. It was a nice finale to a strong set. It’s too bad Josh lives in Spain now, because in a different venue, this show would have been amazing and I’d love to see him again.

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