by Michael McCarthy
Last Friday night on July 19th, 2019, I caught Marielle Kraft with opening act Visiting Wine at City Winery in Boston, Massachusetts. It was a great night and I have to start off by praising the venue, which I found most impressive.
THE VENUE: CITY WINERY BOSTON
First of all, when you walk into City Winery, which is located at 80 Beverly Street in the North End, you immediately get a sense of how spacious and inviting it is. “Wow, this place is huge,” I said to my father, who accompanied me to the show. I also noticed how clean it was, the floor shiny as could be.
We were directed to The Haymarket Lounge where Marielle Kraft would be playing. As soon as we walked into the room, I noticed how the wine glasses sparkled; they were gleaming. We were told we could sit anywhere so we proceeded to sit at a table about 10 feet back from the stage, just slightly off to the side. Honestly, we couldn’t have asked for better seats. And I loved that it was set up like a restaurant that just happened to have a small concert stage at the end. I could easily imagine seeing a jazz show on a Sunday morning there. As someone who walks with a cane, I also appreciated that the tables weren’t on top of each other. There was more than ample room to walk between them.
While we were sitting there before the opening act, The Visiting Wine, we tried the chef’s special, something that wasn’t even on the menu. Eggplant fries. And, yes, by that I mean they were pieces of eggplant, battered and fried, in the shape of french fries. They were delicious, too. They were very light, much lighter than you would expect something made of eggplant to be. The batter itself was zesty and had a kick to it without being what one would consider spicy. It reminded me of the batter they use to make vegetable tempura at Japanese restaurants. The overall taste of the fries was sensational. Even without the dip, they melted in your mouth, making it water, so to speak. If they’re not the special next time I’m there, I’ll have to ask if the chef would mind making them just for me because I simply must have them again. And I do plan to return to City Winery soon.
THE OPENING ACT: VISITING WINE
I was perplexed when I saw the listing for the show and it read “Marielle Kraft with The Visiting Wine.” Since City Winery is, in fact, a winery, I figured it must have something to do with wine, that maybe they were featuring wines they don’t normally carry that night or we’d be visiting the winery part of the venue before the show.
As it turns out, Visiting Wine is a Boston band. A terrific trio consisting of Lindsey Sampson, Greg Daigle, and Jim McCann, although they had additional musicians performing with them. Their sound is a bit hard to describe. Percussion-wise, their sound was very forward-driving and stomp-ish. It reminded me of The Lumineers and Mumford & Sons, both of which I’ve since seen listed among their influences on their Facebook page. Their overall sound was propelled less by the percussion and more by the guitars and bass, which were played so hard you’d think they were playing heavy metal. Suffice to say, their sound was highly energetic. To call it vibrant is an understatement. And front and center was frontwoman Lindsey Sampson, who radiated positivity and sang with the same gusto the instruments were played with. She was like a combination of Marianne Faithful, Lissie and Juliana Hatfield. And the trio’s songs were nothing shy of addictive; I couldn’t help but sing along to the choruses, especially those of “Climb” and “Home.” My favorite track was their set closer, “Where Have You Been,” which Lindsey said, “is about when you’ve lost yourself for a bit and you feel that inclement.” They also did a high voltage cover of Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream”; it was like they were doing a punk band’s version of the song. And everybody sang along to that one from start to finish. Next time, I have a feeling most of the crowd will be singing their songs from top to bottom, too. I’ll be on the lookout for the next time they play Boston for sure.
THE HEADLINER: MARIELLE KRAFT
Marielle Kraft’s show Friday night was also her EP release party for The Deep End, which is out now. If you like indie-pop with singer/songwriter flair then it’s a must-hear. That said, I thought the songs from the EP sounded even better performed with a whole band in the live setting. They just sounded fuller and had an extra dose of vibrancy. Don’t get me wrong, The Deep End sounds lovely and I highly recommend it, but there was more of a rock ‘n’ roll vibe to the live versions, whereas the EP is more so in the pop vein – and is ultra-catchy at that. Her entire set kicked ass, really, and that’s not something I would have expected to say after listening to her two EPs.
The first thing Marielle had to say to the crowd was, “Thank you so much for selling it out.” I’d been wondering how many people would be there because I’d only just heard of Marielle myself two weeks prior. But it was, in fact, sold out. And much of the crowd knew her songs and was only happy to sing along.
I very much enjoyed Marielle’s banter throughout the show. I hadn’t realized just how deeply personal her songs were until I heard the stories behind them, some of which she told in a humorous manner while others appeared painful to recite. Before performing “Out of River,” my favorite track from The Deep End, she said, “I started it two years ago. I wrote the verses when I was in the relationship and the chorus when I was out.” During that infectious chorus she sings, “We can’t keep pushing father / I just keep holding tighter / I want to jump / but baby we can’t swim / we’re running out of river.”
Before the recent single “Toothbrush,” which she made all sorts of funny faces during, she said it’s about having a night with someone and immediately regretting it.” The song describes someone who wants to move too fast, rushing to the toothbrush stage of the relationship. Something Marielle does not appreciate. The chorus, which the crowd sang along to the loudest, goes, “I hid your toothbrush this morning / like you were never in my bed” and “I know you left it / on purpose / to keep you in my head.” In the hilarious music video, dozens of fans lip-synched or sang the song using a custom toothbrush that she sent them as a microphone.
You had to love Marielle’s winning personality. I swear, she has fifty different smiles and can do 100 different things with her eyes after witnessing how she’d further engage her audience by simply using her facial expressions to deepen a message or further amuse the audience.
As she prepared to perform “Box,” a tender track from the EP, she explained, “I picked up the guitar after having wounds physically and emotionally.” The sentimental chorus goes,“You sent a box of my stuff / folded up / you sent a box / in case / I forgot we broke up.”
Another highlight was the one cover she performed, a spirited rendition of Avril Lavigne’s “Complicated.” The audience sang along so loud it was difficult to hear her at times.
I’ll definitely catch Marielle the next time she’s in town and I’m dying for her to release a full-length album already! Perhaps a live in-studio record with her full band? One can hope…
Upcoming Marielle Kraft Shows:
July 26 – Philadelphia, PA @ World Cafe Live (upstairs)
July 27 – Washington, DC @ Songbyrd
CONNECT WITH MARIELLE: