Seeing Colbie Caillat this past Monday reminded me that I don't listen to the radio nearly enough.
It was not Caillat's set that granted me this insight, but opener Andy Grammer. I had no idea who this John Mayer-ish fellow was but, it seems, most of the hyped up teens and rhythmically challenged parents who filled the Carnegie Music Hall of Homestead did.
This is what I now know about Grammer: He honed his Jason Mraz/Jack Johnson-style guitar pop as a Santa Monica busker, he beatboxes quite a bit, he has a pleasant radio hit called "Keep Your Head Up," and judging by amount of excited streaking and "I love you!"s throughout his set, the ladies love him. When he took off his sweaty suit jacket and sat down at the keyboard, to the tune of a dozen wolf-whistles, he laughed. "People will yell, ‘take off your shirt!'" he said, hunching forward, "and I'm like, ‘sitting here at the piano, you do not want to see me take my shirt off."
Musically, Grammer and his bandmates were polished and charming, and despite a certain amount of derivative predictability, were not entirely unmemorable. "He sounds like Train," a chatty woman behind me shouted over the music. "I was thinking more of a young Sting," her friend replied. And ladies, you're both right!
Audience enthusiasm reached explosive heights for Caillat, who walked onstage looking like a golden surfer version of Serena Van Der Woodson. She opened with "Realize," from her first record, and was joined by the rather unremarkable American Idol finalist Elliot Yamin, who was on his way to appear at the Hard Rock Café later that night. "I called him 20 minutes ago and said ‘come sing on this song,'" Caillat explained with a smile. Then she returned the wave of a teenage boy in the balcony, who nearly fell over the railing in happiness.
Caillat effortlessly filled the theater with her warm voice, despite being under the weather. She played guitar on maybe three songs and, though I'm guessing she probably only plays when she's working out new song melodies, she was at her most physically commanding when she did, throwing her head back and shining like a modern Opry star. The rest of the time, she and the other 6 members of her band looked a bit off-kilter, as though they weren't sure how to stand on the relatively small stage without getting in each other's way.
Admittedly, about halfway through the set, I started craving a song with a little bite -- it's one thing to enjoy an laid-back romantic pop single on the radio, but hearing 17 all at once can get tiresome, especially when each one is introduced with "I wrote this song when I was falling in love for the first time…"or "Has anyone here ever been led on by someone in a relationship?"
But, I suppose pajama party talk is par for the course when it comes to beachy pop singers. And it's hard not to be on board with such a display of bald sincerity. Whatever Caillat may lack in grit, she makes up for by being the popular girl who's actually really sweet and nice to everyone. When, midway through the set, she told the crowd, "I love you all," I couldn't help but believe her.