Show Review: Valerie Orth

Another weekend, another thrilling adventure to be had. Last Friday night, the masterful and entertaining musician, Valerie Orth, celebrated her EP release, ‘Wake You’ at the legendary Mercury Lounge. On top of that, her latest song, Call You My Own, has already become an easy ear-worm tune for many in the city streets to enjoy this winter. It was a night of musical praise and plain old fun all around.

While walking through a chilly evening breeze with some light snow, people did not seem to let that dampen their adventurous spirit for the initial start of the weekend. Arriving at the small venue, a tiny crowd was gathered for the final bits from opener, Merrily James. From those last tunes, the easygoing vibe of the show remained. It was a relaxing Friday to be indoors with some solid music. As Merrily’s group dispersed and made way for Valerie’s crew, the banter between friends and family was apparent. Valerie’s band; Lauren Sky, Rachel Walker, Kathy Comperatore, Attis Clopton, Devon Johnson and Johnny Butler happily set up with smiles on their faces. Eventually, Valerie slid through the crowd clad in all white and quickly organized her instruments. There was already a jolly band feel from the group as laughter and constant grins carried over during their set up. Even the crowd imitated this feeling as lively mingling continued through this brief intermission. Valerie’s back up singers, Rachel and Kathy, were eager for the show to start as they waited restlessly by their microphones. Johnny on the sax was even practicing in the back of the room by the soundboard for optimal precision. With every minute that passed, the crowd grew even more in anticipation for Miss Orth’s upcoming performance. Before everything finally was set to take off, Valerie had the band huddle together and words of wisdom were shared for the magic to come.

Valerie greeted everyone and had the chatter from the audience drop down a bit for Devon to record a hand clapping loop. From there, Valerie’s guitar emitted a twang of rock and roll goodness. Her voice was full of light soul as the bass drum kicked in. It was rhythm and blues rock at its best. Attis on the drums unveiled his trademark smile that only made his skill in unleashing a bouncing groove even more catchy. The clapping loop was an interesting touch as it was easily heard in between the music at hand. Harmonic moments were shared between Valerie and her ladies, Rachel and Kathy, that led into the constant twangs and pluck of the keys. There was subtle use of echoes in all of the instrumentation from time to time. However, all eyes were drawn on Valerie as she sang proudly in her little bubble. Her hip shakes and closed eyes paired with her grins made it obvious she was having a blast up there. She kept going strong despite the chatter that continued from the crowd. Then again, it dissipated briefly once her seductive vocal flow began to match well with the light keys. Thrumming loud rock and roll came next and the shaking of hips were more frequent. Even some style of folk-soul was introduced which revealed the more intimate side of Valerie’s vocals. Her music was casual with the synths that allowed a soul overlay to slide right into it all. Cheers and applause from listeners came often at the end of each of these tunes.

Even with the rocking bits the whole feeling of the music was mellow and full at the same time. Valerie’s vocals always stole the show. Her voice ached with something hard to grasp and there was a depth that was intriguing. Listeners watched with intensity as her poetic verses were funneled through her vocals. A nice surprise was when funk peeked in and the colorful lights from the stage began to go insane. Fans were swaying with glee as a form of trippy guitar chords were played. It left a strange lingering sensibility in the space. Was it psychedelic reggae? Nobody could really put it together correctly. Lauren on bass, transitioned her skills to the additional synth bass and soon became another fan favorite with her enthusiastic dancing. A lullaby rock effect started and this unique transition between melodies became a trend in Valerie’s music. Everything was very shifty, but it a positive way. Listeners really had no idea what to expect with every new song introduced. Probably the most memorable event of the night was Valerie’s funky rendition of Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit. It was a supremely groovy take on the classic tune. Even more so was Miss Orth’s wild and blissful dancing on stage. She was feeling the essence of Kurt in every way.

Towards the end of her set, she had the crowd join in for some participation in claps and vocals with the chorus. Everyone practiced for a bit together until Attis needed to start things over due to the teasing from the band and utter confusion of sounds. This was a suave blend of funk and hard rock. Opener, Merrily returned alongside guest Dani Mari who joined Valerie for the tribute song, Freedom. However, there was a strange use of putter saxophone from Johnny that had unusual stand alone solos in this bit. There were a ton of stops and little flow. Despite that, there was a hopeful message at hand with the encore performance, which she dedicated to all of the musical idols that had passed in 2016. She even got so into this moment that she felt compelled to step down into the crowd and dance with her fans. Everything was happy in the glow of musical peace. Miss Orth had done it again.

Jam on.



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