On February 6, singer and guitarist Margaret Glaspy played an intimate concert for about a hundred people, tucked in the back room of the Cat’s Cradle in Carrboro. The 28-year-old has been getting a lot of attention on her nationwide tour in the past months, coming off the June release of her first album, “Emotions and Math.”
Opening the show, however, was Minneapolis-based group Bad Bad Hats, comprised of vocalist and guitarist Kerry Alexander, drummer Chris Hoge and bassist Noah Boswell. The trio performed a sizable setlist of songs from their debut album, “Psychic Reader.” The three musicians’ sounds balanced together nicely, led by Kerry’s soft and punctual vocals.
After several songs, they paused for Kerry to thank the audience and tell a couple of stories. Her demeanor was slightly uncomfortable and her personality was quirky, but her perspective of being on the road and being in North Carolina was endearing.
Though the crowd was pretty small for the opening set, most people were listening intently. The band had an interesting sound, and a few of their songs got into a comfortable and enjoyable groove. “Fight Song” in particular was an exciting one, with a driving beat and anthem-like chorus.
California native Margaret Glaspy produced her own album, which includes twelve songs that are each powerful and raw with honesty. She quietly took the stage, joined by a bassist and a drummer, situating herself on the right side and opening with her song, “Love Like This.”
Glaspy’s voice is almost bluesy in character, with a bite and a growl that you don’t often hear. However, she can also make it sound soft and light, demonstrating the contrast in the opening song of the night. By the time her set began, the room was full of people, all quiet and intently listening to her grungy guitar lines and sharp vocals.
One of the highlights of the night wasn’t one of her own songs, but a cover. Glaspy prefaced the song with a story: in 1997, her older sister had received a record for Christmas that she played nonstop for years, that record being “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.” The album ended up being extremely impactful on Glaspy’s musical motivation and sound, and it is a record that she says she still listens to often. She then launched into a lengthy cover of Lauryn Hill’s song “Ex-Factor”.
After a couple more songs, Margaret noted that the audience was quiet and well-behaved – something she appreciated a lot after days of noisy and excited shows. Both kinds of audiences, she said, were great but for different reasons. After playing big shows with the Lumineers and Andrew Bird, this one was small and intimate in comparison.
Near the end of the set came the title track from “Emotions and Math,” which a lot of people cheered about and sang along to. With a low-end guitar line and steady drum beat, the song grooves nicely with Glaspy’s raw vocals pushing forward.
A venue as small as the back room at the Cat’s Cradle was conducive to a memorable performance, particularly with a good view from the front of the room. Margaret Glaspy’s album is definitely worth checking out, with songs that have a powerful attitude and interesting guitar riffs.