February 10th, 2008 – 8 pm. Boulder Coffee Co. Rochester, NY
Sam Buck Rosen/Baby Shivers Boutique
So it’s cold out. Really cold. So cold that you can see your breath twenty minutes after your car has been on and warmed up. But you still aren’t warm. Oh, and you have two papers to write, and they’re due on Monday and Tuesday, respectively. A real banal one is in the mix at least, and that’s for sure – one that you certainly don’t want to even think about. Maybe it’s a business paper, maybe not. But you’ve found yourself at a coffee shop that sells sandwiches and beer. These two items happen to be your favorite things. For some reason, too, you can’t stop thinking about Valentine’s Day 2006.
Oh wait, it’s because you’re seeing Sam Buck Rosen tonight at said coffee shop, and he happened to play your apartment on said Valentine’s Day. This is most likely the dialogue you carry on with yourself if you’re me, waiting to see Sam Rosen for a second time.
But first, your friend’s band Baby Shivers Boutique plays. And you’ve seen them before, but it’s never been this good. Their songs are filled with the same seemingly cute, quirky innocence, but they’ve changed. The songs are now more about being a real human. The songs speak of their relationship, or lack-thereof, to God. Maybe even of feeling like shit and equating it to be helpless and poor, or even of re-evaluating the middle class. But for some reason the bleakness of it all can be overlooked by the most wonderful melodies, and it makes you feel okay about all the injustice in the world and how f*cked up society may be.
Well, they finish, and there’s some time before Sam and co. are ready to play. You can’t help but think that the poor girl playing bass is cold as hell because she’s got a huge slit in her jeans and her sweater is way too high on her stomach. But when they go on, it’s what you knew you were waiting for – you’ve been satisfied greatly. It’s pop music, sort of, but it’s more complex than that. The guitar opens up all over the place while the bass supplements the most solid and tight drumming. Sam’s vocals are eccentric and want to pull you from your seat; they’re demanding but polite. It’s a combination of things that sound right together. It’s reminiscent of the past but so modern. Sam plays his set, and gets to the end, but it doesn’t feel like the end yet. So someone tells him to play a last song. He abides and it’s Mexico. It sounds like Sam Cooke has been conjured to play a last sad soul song to finish off the night and it’s the perfect touch.
After hanging out for a bit you find out that Sam lives amongst some pretty righteous songwriters in Brooklyn. And it’s not Williamsburg, thank God. But if you hung out with the Dirty Projectors and Vampire Weekend, you’d be inspired to write some pretty damn catchy songs too, wouldn’t you? And that’s what Sam did, and this is the same point when you realize you’ve skipped out on two or so hours of work you should have been doing to finish your quarter cause you’re on trimesters; but oh, wasn’t it the best two or so hours “wasted” ever?
– Travis Johansen