Show Review: Cautious Clay Debuts in Chicago With Two Sold Out Performances

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According to a study done in January of this year, millennials spend 10 hours a week on dating apps. Out of 5,000 people between the ages of 18-30, men were likely to spend about 85 minutes a day on apps, women with 79 minutes. This isn’t a surprising statistic to those of us (including myself) who have taken our turns on dating apps – young people are utilizing technology and social media more than anyone else.

10 hours a week can definitely bring frustrations and inherently makes dating harder – which is a concept that Cautious Clay (real name Joshua Karpeh) knows all too well.

His biggest song to date – “Cold War,” is about “commitment and also the frustration of lack of commitment” – and how dating has been skewed in the digital era.

“Cold War” is approaching 15 million streams on Spotify and has been featured on the opening episode of The HBO show “Insecure.” A YouTube comment on the video above by user Sam Jones states “Frank ocean and kid cudi had a child” and I found it ironic since I turned to my friend 3 minutes into his set last week at Schuba’s and said “wow, he really sounds like Kid Cudi.”

Contrary to what I know now, I went into Cautious Clay’s 7pm show at Schubas’s Tavern (he had a later show at 10pm, both shows sold out) thinking his name was in fact, Clay. I know now that “Cautious Clay” is a play on “Cassius Clay,” which is world-famous boxer Muhammad Ali’s real name.

Before CC decided to produce, write & release his own music, he was working on friend’s music as a producer. The translation from being behind the scenes to the front of the stage has been an interesting one for Clay, who had been toying with the idea of releasing his own stuff for awhile. Growing up in Cleveland, Ohio, he began playing the flute at age seven and continued to be fascinated with music as an adolescent. He ended up in Washington, D.C. for college – studying jazz saxophone at George Washington University – an instrument he integrates heavily into his music. After college, he moved to Brooklyn.

While waiting for his set to begin at the 165-person capacity venue, the crowd was buzzing with excitement as CC slinked through the audience on the left to make his way onto the stage – the venue doesn’t quite allow any sort of glamorous onstage entrance. A couple people pointed and smiled, his expression didn’t change. He seemed entirely focused on avoiding anyone’s “aha!” moment as he made his way up to the stage to start the performance. The pseudonym “Cautious Clay” was entirely fitting at this point.

It took a couple songs for CC to get into the rhythm of performing as he seemed a little bit unsure of himself. This of course entirely makes sense, considering he was producing music for so long and is still new at performing and learning the ropes on how to captivate an audience. It didn’t help that the audience was pretty lame – which also got better as it went on.

The highlights were when CC was able to showcase his talents playing multiple instruments – the Ukulele, the flute and saxophone. Obviously you can hear these things in his music but to see and learn that he’s the one playing them makes the experience even more personable to who he is as a musician and it was really cool that he was able to showcase that.

The short, 50-minute set ran through all of CC’s released music – including all songs from his recent EP, “Resonance” – which was released on August 22.

It was such a treat to be able to cover this show at such a poignant time in CC’s career. While it was obvious to me that he’s still at the very beginning stages of his performance experience and stage presence, I have no doubt that he’s going to continue to improve with time and more opportunities to perform.

It’s an interesting time to be a musician – you’re either getting a lot of fans thanks to the help of social media – or the ridiculous amount of choice that we have THANKS to social media and streaming services can cause artists to overshadow one another. I would obviously say that CC’s been fortunate enough to be positively affected by social media – and his unique indie R&B sound has set him apart from a lot of those in the same boat as him.

The last thing I would like to add is an excerpt below from an interview CC did with Billboard recently. The quote is about what he wants listeners to take away from his music.

“I would like my listeners to be more intentional with their time and the people they hang out with. Make sure you’re surrounding yourself with people who are worth your time. I feel like when you’re creating an identity for yourself, the people you surround yourself with will determine your own personal self-worth.”

How can you not support that message?

Side-note: Cautious Clay recently shared that he filmed a Tiny Desk Concert. It’s coming at the end of the month. We all know how much I love these – so keep an eye out!

Click here for Cautious Clay’s tour dates.
Click here to see all of my show reviews from 2018.

Concert Calendar:
10/6 – Fleetwood Mac
10/25 – Mitski
10/30 – Maggie Rogers

– Kristin

 

 

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