The NYC-based Deli Magazine is dedicated to giving props to all the amazing local musicians in a handful of cities across the country. And sticking true to their roots last night at Rockwood Music Hall, they jam-packed their double showcase with tons of incredible artists. With such a deep pool of talent to choose from, it’s no wonder they needed (and filled) both Rockwood stages, with musicians performing simultaneously in both rooms all night long. Free of charge, no less!
Walking Shapes took Stage 2 in front of a surprisingly large crowd for an after-work show. The quintet performed a solid 30-minute set that allowed their innovative classic rock/electro/pop sensibilities to shine. Catchy-as-hell guitar licks contrasted nicely with the slight off-kilterness of spacey synths and sometimes airy/sometimes booming vocals. Lead singer Nathaniel Hoho has a surprisingly clear tone to his voice; it’s pretty uncommon for a rock singer to lay low on the gruff, but Hoho saves that for the moments when he blasts in his uppermost register. The rest of the time, he’s smooth as a baby’s bum, which in a weird way helps bridge the gap from the rock-heavy guitar lines with the more pop and electronic shades that try to peek through.
Over on Stage 1, D.C.-native Young Summer settled nicely into her set in front of a packed room. Sure, the room was pretty small, but still, the crowd seemed enticed and focused on what Summer was dishing up. There is a distinctly bluesy tone to Summer’s voice which can especially be heard in the little inflections and soft runs in a lot of her songs. Her voice isn’t perfect, but it’s delicate and raw and carries a surprising amount of heft when it needs to. There is a sort of hazy sexiness to Young Summer, both in her songs and in her manner on stage, that’s reminiscent of some of those classic female country stars like Bonnie Raitt and Dolly Parton. She tells stories like those women too, simple stories with powerful emotions behind them. “I tried, I tried, I tried,” she sang over and over again in Why Try, the quiet sadness almost tangible as she repeated the phrase. She stated early on that this was her first New York show, but it’s certainly doubtful it will be her last if she continues in the direction that she’s going.
Back over on Stage 2, Elizabeth And The Catapult had an entire room’s worth of eyes locked on them as they energetically plowed through an impressive set. Singer/pianist/guitarist/occasional accordionist, Elizabeth Ziman, is scrappy and dark and sarcastic and wonderful. Backed by an awesome three-piece band, the barefoot and fancy-free singer showcased her talents both as a composer and a performer. Her songs are dense in every possible way—her fingers are a blur on the piano as she plays through her intricate compositions, and her lyrics tell beautifully sad stories of pain and heartbreak. Even in her most pop-inspired moments, Ziman manages to interject hints of melancholy to her music. It’s like watching someone smile as they punch you in the gut, except when Ziman does it, it feels pretty good.
A show stopping moment came in the form of Ziman performing George Laswell’s Embrace Me, with just her and her guitar player. In contrast to the previously crowded stage and crowded songs, this stripped down moment was exactly what was needed to prove that Ziman has the voice to back up her quirkiness. With so many artists across two stages, it’s hard to make in lasting impression, but Ziman and her crew did just that. And she didn’t even need to wear shoes to do it.