The second show at Olde Club this year, featuring artists Brianna Cash and Xenia Rubinos, was subdued and intimate at times, and made you want to dance at others. The show started at 10 p.m. last Thursday, November 6, and ended at around 12:30 a.m.
Both artists showcased their individual talents in different ways. Cash, a Philadelphia based singer/songwriter, brought with her a certain kind of lightness. Cash released an EP last year called Journey After June and has been working on touring and new music since. On her Facebook page, she cites Stevie Wonder as one of her biggest influence. From her performance, it is easy to see how Stevie Wonder’s influence seeped into her performativity and lyricism.
The songs Cash performed, including “Kisses in the Rain” and “September,” were reminiscent of powerful, stripped-down pop from the mid-2000s, with influences from ’70s pop, folk, and R&B balladeers such as Minnie Riperton and, as mentioned, Stevie Wonder. Her stage persona was demure, but powerful in parts when she allowed her voice and persona to come through. The entire set was almost reminiscent of an episode of MTV Unplugged.
That Music Mag says of Cash, “People have been responding positively on all fronts. Social sites (like Twitter, Instagram, and many more), downloads, and countless performances cement her talents and generate new fans while making her loyal fans remember why they fell in love with her in the first place.”
Cash’s set in its entirety was alluring in a soft and pleasant way. This was nicely contrasted with Rubinos’s performance, an amalgam of style, melody bending, and generally upbeat music.
Rubinos, an artist with a decently large profile (she will play The Knitting Factory in Brooklyn with Andrew W.K. and the Skins on November 22nd), brought nearly as intimate a performance with her as Brianna Cash. Rubinos hails from Hartford, Connecticut, but is now based in New York, and is of Cuban and Puerto Rican descent. Her music is influenced by her childhood experiences in a multi-cultural Latino household.
Performing with the assistance of a drummer, Marco Buccelli, and a sampler (the second time in two Olde Club shows this device has been used), Rubinos brought an atmosphere to Olde Club that can be explained as head-bobbing, dance-making excellence. Rubinos’s jazz-laden voice alone without the assistance of the sampler is powerful in its clarity. With the device, Rubinos’s stage presence becomes transcendent.
One only has to listen to Rubinos’s song “Pan y Café” to get a sense of her style. The melodic limitations of a voice and a drumset seem to be lost on her. In her live performance, Rubinos creates solidly beautiful melodies along with a dance-ready atmosphere. The contingent in Olde Club was so excited at the end of the show that they asked for an encore, and received a chilling bookend to the show reminiscent of a jazzier James Blake.
In a 2013 write up of Rubinos’s album, The New Yorker said, “Rubinos works with a small sampler, which she uses to trigger recordings of the sound of her own voice, keyboard parts, and a creaky door. The result is rhythmically fierce, vocally generous music that slips through the net of any known genre.”
The number of people in the show varied from around 15-25 throughout the night. The crowd was a mix of regulars, including the two Olde Club heads for this year, among a nice smattering of new faces. The smaller turnout was thankfully conducive to the music that was played throughout the night. The Thursday night timeslot was at odds with Pub Nite, and Olde Club filled up with curious Swatties around midnight, after the last line of American Pie played.
If this show were on a Friday night, it’s certain the attendance would have been greater. However, regardless of the day, time, or conflict with other campus events, the number of people at Olde Club throughout the night represented a sweet spot of sorts, for this show at least. The mix of styles of the two performers could have proven discordant. Yet instead, both artists accented each other nicely, adding a smooth flow to a night of strong performances.