Watchhouse August 19, 2021 Red Butte Garden Amphitheater
The timing of this show couldn’t have been any better. It’s a cold brisk night in Salt Lake City. The perfect company for that is some good Folk/Americana music provided by Watchhouse, formerly known as Mandolin Orange.
This was my first time attending a show at Red Butte Gardens. I was excited to spend a beautiful rainy Thursday night here. The crowds came prepared with layers and blankets along with their coolers full of refreshments and snacks. The mood felt very relaxed and laid back as the crowd settled in their spots. The concession stand line grew longer. The venue filled up as fans were eager to get a delicious pulled pork banh mi and either hot cocoa or some hot apple cider.
The show was opened by a beautiful and vibrant lady that goes by Esther Rose. I always enjoyed discovering and hearing new artists so I was excited about her set. With only an acoustic guitar and another person playing slide guitar with her, you knew that she would bring some good soulful vibes. Personally, as soon as she stepped on stage, she gave me Norah Jones-esque energy.
The venue kept filling up and as she gracefully sang her songs. The crowd was extremely supportive of her during the set and cheered her in between songs.
In between one of her songs we got the chance to hear more about her life and gave us more of her personality. She mentioned that she was originally from New Orleans and is currently living in New Mexico for music and working with her band. A highlight for me during her set, Esther joked about being nervous and she likes to picture the crowd in pink fuzzy robes clipping their toenails. Which got a good laugh from everyone and it was also very fitting since the audience looked extremely cozy bundled up in layers.
One of Rose’s songs that caught my attention was a song titled “That Girl.” She mentioned that this stems from her New Orleans background and a feeling of homesickness. She also chimed in how much she misses getting alcohol to go.
As she finished her set, she headed over to her merch booth and it was really cool to see the artist selling her own merch instead of someone else. I got the chance to meet her and we connected on her life back in New Orleans. I got to spend Mardi Gras 2 years ago and I absolutely loved the culture and the cuisine. It was awesome to be able to sit down and chat with an artist. If Esther Rose comes back to Salt Lake City, I suggest that the readers check out one of her shows.
At about 8:30 PM the rain picked up and the wind grew stronger. I was getting worried that the show might be canceled due to weather, but the Watchhouse fans were here to stay. Fans refilled their warm drinks and added extra layers to stay warm and cozy.
This would be their first show after releasing their newest self-titled album “Watchhouse”. We were extremely lucky to have The North Carolina duo step on stage along with their band. When I see a stage full of musical instruments, I know that my ears are gonna be in for a treat. What I love most about a well-rounded band like this is paying attention and listening to each band member.
I think the perfect description for their style of music is a long warm hug on a cold rainy night. The band played and Andrew and Emily serenaded the crowd through their beautiful melody. They painted pictures in your head with their well-written lyrics. I don’t get to see a lot of bands play with violins, cellos, and a mandolin so the sound that they delivered offers so much more, and from a fan perspective, this made me extremely happy.
A striking song that stood out for me was “Nightbird”. They nearly played all of their songs off the recent album, “Watchhouse.” Nightbird” was the first song off the new record. It was a dark, deep, soulful, and very powerful song that was sung by Andrew.
Emily joked in between their set and told the story about how they weren’t completely prepared for this weather, saying that the full band looked completely chic on the outside, but had to run to Walmart an hour before the show to get base layers. One of the most beautiful moments that I’ve seen is when the crowd rose from their seats and filled up both sides of the stage. Couples held on to each other and slowly swayed to the music. The energy of the music brought so much emotion and intimacy. I thought that this was such an amazing moment to witness.
Emily mostly supported on vocals and kept her focus with the violin, but she took the lead during “Beautiful Flowers.” This was the first time I’ve ever heard of their songs and this one might’ve been my favorite along with their most popular song “New Star.”
Another song that I also really enjoyed was “Echo.” Andrew gracefully played the mandolin as he sang. The song was very descriptive of his connection to nature and once again painted photographs in our brains with his lyrics.
Overall, it was such a wonderful night. Watchhouse finished their set and the crowd was extremely supportive. They weather diligently through the rain. I would absolutely watch and listen to Watchhouse again. If you get the chance to see them live, don’t hesitate. Watchhouse brings a soothing energy but will also make you get up and slow dance with someone you love.
Review By: Justin Lagman