October 6, 2009
Great Scott – Boston, MA
Reviewed by: Sally Feller
Opening for Blake Lewis on a Monday night in Allston, Massachusetts, Carlotta was greeted with a small, but appreciative crowd. As is usually the case, people were at the venue to see the main band, but Carlotta successfully won over the majority of them.
The L.A.-based band is made up of young guys: Clayton Hawkins on vocals, Andrew Smith on guitar, keyboards, and backup vocals, Jarrad Lander on bass, and Matt Baker on drums; and seems to be making quite a splash on college radio stations, making Boston a prime, if far-from-home venue.
Hawkins has a falsetto reminiscent of Justin Timberlake back when he was a boy-bander. He also carries a glam-rock stage persona that will quickly win girl fans over…or annoy them by channeling Bowie when they aren’t quite ready for it. Hawkins’ stage presence is nicely balanced by the aggressive drumming, bass, keyboards, and guitar of the remaining band mates.
The piano-heavy ballad, played ardently by Smith, “Maybe in a Year” was the standout live song. While not exactly original, the song is catchy and heartfelt, with soulful vocals. Ironically, the least appealing song to me is Carlotta’s single “There’s a Way,” which blends in with other pop songs already saturating radio stations across the U.S. Perhaps “There’s a Way” will garner a whole slew of new Carlotta fans who enjoy and embrace the music they already know and love that exists in their comfort zone.
Dance-worthy “Not Much Better” got feet tapping and hips grinding impressively for a Monday night. Hawkins’ voice lends itself to the dance, disco beats nicely. In a surprising and inspired move, Carlotta ended their show with a cover of “Billie Jean,” which included a spangly gold “Ziggy Stardust”-esque jacket which was yanked “from my mom’s closet,” according to Hawkins.
My prediction is that any of you who are or will soon be college students will quickly become familiar with Carlotta. Same goes for you MTV viewers (don’t pretend you’re not watching “The Hills”). Girls will be swooning at the romantic ballads and the cute band members, and guys will find themselves throwing back beers to the beat of “There’s a Way.” They could easily be played on both alternative and pop stations, giving them a wider, varied audience. Carlotta is on tour now on the East Coast and they’re worth checking out.