Sophie Madeleine live in New York City

Thursday, June 28th, found me attending the seventh music event on the eighth day of my vacation. I had strolled the streets of Manhattan earlier that day and ate a delicious veggie burger at Earthmatters (177 Ludlow St New York, NY 10011). My feet got tired, eventually, and it was still rather hot outside, so I went to the Rockwood Music Hall in time to catch a couple of songs by the first artist playing there that evening. Matt Dorien sounded quite nice, playing some sort of mellow but not really mellow country folk songs (a bit Paul Simon-y in terms of the vocals) with a neat backing band. The sound man provided a good, balanced mix throughout the evening; my tortured ears were thankful. There were eight people in the audience (including me). I could write a whole post about this alone, because it shows a) that playing in NYC isn’t necessarily as glamorous as it sounds and b) despite the meagre attendance, the musicians gave it all and earned if not money at least valuable respect and experience.

Next came Emily Elbert, a jazzy singer who accompanied herself on acoustic guitar. She actually tore one of the strings towards the end, because her playing was quite energetic, yet still artistic. Her command of her talent was impressive, however, I’m not a fan of such daring tonalities. The crowd (about 25 by now!) liked her quite a bit, though. Daniel and the Lion played laid back folk songs, but they had an aweful lot of very somber, soft songs. My attention drifted time and again as I failed to connect to the songs. The duo (piano and guitar/vocals) had come from Wisconsin to find about 30 people listening (which made the venue half-empty/half-full). Again, I doubt any artist can achieve sustainable success without this sort of commitment. Still, even then it comes down to whether the front row is swinging in the groove or not. People seemed to enjoy the show and were listening attentively during the quiet parts, even though they had chatted loudly just a few minutes earlier. This certainly helped to make the performers feel good.

Around 9 pm it was time for Sophie Madeleine, the reason I had come to the venue. She’s one half of Rocky & Balls whom I first found out about through Tom of the Boffo Yux Dudes. Some of her songs are way too “fluffy” for my taste. Still, she has produced a few gems – and admission was free, after all! When Sophie (together with Timothy on guitar and harmony vocals) entered the stage, I was skeptical, because there was a ton of gear. Miraculously, the change over didn’t take too long and everything worked. When the show began with pre-recorded loop samples, I was afraid that the gig would turn into a karaoke session. Thankfully, this wasn’t the case. Most songs were played 100% live – and for some songs, the loops were recorded on location, which was quite fascinating. Sophie did play my favourite song of hers, “Little One“, so I was happy. She also premiered a new song that was possibly the most introverted of the songs she played. The audience (still 30 noses) was once again attentive yet a bit reserved. I found it quite impressive to see such a flawless performance close-up in this small room right there in the middle of the big city.

Sophie Madeleine live in New York

I was tempted to stay longer because all artists had been quite skilled and four more were to play. (The venue has hourly slots for artists every day of the week.) But my hotel bed beckoned and I wanted to end my week-long music adventure with a positive memory – and Sophie Madeleine had just provided one.

  1. Song to Fall in Love to
  2. The Rhythm You Started
  3. Little One
  4. Stars
  5. Butterfly Child
  6. Beautiful Lie (new song, not sure about the title)
  7. Come Follow Me