Cautious Clay at House Of Blues

Cautious Clay pushes musical boundaries and captivates listeners at House of Blues San Diego‘s own Voodoo Room.

When I first discovered Cautious Clay, I was instantly drawn to the unique richness in his voice. Each song I listened to seemed to get better by the minute. Later, I learned that Cautious Clay was no ordinary alternative R&B artist. Josh Karpeh is the man behind it all. He’s a singer, producer, and multi-instrumentalist who coined the name “Cautious Clay” after Muhammad Ali, aka Cassius Clay. The all-in-one musician remains unsigned and continues to defy boundaries in the name of music. Karpeh attended George Washington University to study jazz saxophone and has continued to use his classically trained background as a tool to push boundaries. By keeping a “minimalist” mindset when writing his songs, Cautious gets to explore the line between keeping his music simple and clean, while making it powerful and touching.

While many listeners are drawn to his beautiful harmonies and catchy beats, the stories he tells through his lyrics is what I believe puts him above the rest. Following the release of his first EP, Blood TypeCautious was interviewed by Billboard Magazine, whom asked the musician what he hoped his listeners would gain from this EP. He responds, “I would like my listeners to be more intentional with their time and the people they hang out with. Make sure you’re surrounding yourself with people who are worth your time. I know that’s really heady and deep, but that’s what the lyrics are about.” Since then, Cautious Clay has appeared on tracks with notable artists like AlunaGeorge and Hudson Mohawke, and recently linked up with electronica star, Medasin, to produce his newest single “HONEST ENOUGH.”

After months of playing his songs on repeat, I felt it was only fitting to attend his concert in San Diego. The concert was hosted in the Voodoo Room at the House of Blues, and while the venue was smaller than I had anticipated, it made the experience even more intimate.

Opening with a fan favorite, “Elsewhere,” I could feel my heartrate increase with only the first few chords. Cautious expressed to Billboard magazine that this song was written about his struggles with student debt and the inability to escape tough situations, which is something that many listeners are able to relate to. I was originally drawn to this song because of the unique mixture of electronica and indie production combined with his soulful harmonies, but it is the honesty behind his lyrics that kept me hitting the repeat button.

While I was personally disappointed by the energy in the crowd, Cautious Clay maintained a steady stage presence that kept me on my toes. After pulling out a saxophone and flute for songs such as “Stolen Moments” and “Call Me,” I became only more captivated by his talent.

Following the performance of some of his most popular hits like “Blood Type” and “French Riviera,” Karpeh asked the audience to give a round of applause to his bandmates before they momentarily left the stage. As he pulls out his acoustic guitar, the crowd starts to settle down before Cautious performed an unreleased track off his upcoming EP. The song was slow, but far from boring. This ballad was deep and emotional, and will soon touch the hearts of listeners alike.

I am eager for the release of his upcoming EP, Table of Context, as well as his return to San Diego in the future. My hopes for his next tour is that the crowd is more respectful and attentive to his stage presence because my expectations unfortunately fell short this time around. While his performance was still honest and true, I believe that an audience within his age range would be more courteous to the passion he poured out on stage. All-in-all, there are many big things in store for Cautious Clay this year. Although he’s already killing it, I’d say that he is just getting started.

Review By: Brittany Roache
Photos by: Brittany Roache

Treasure Island Music Festival Highlights

A celebration of music, art, and Bay Area culture – the best way to describe Treasure Island Music Festival.

Located in Oakland, CA, Treasure Island Music Festival (TIMF) recently hosted their 11th annual music and arts festival with over 23,500 total attendees across two days. As an avid festival-goer myself, I will admit that my expectations were high for my first time attending TIMF. In the years past, the festival was located on Treasure Island itself. This year, TIMF decided to give the crowd an even better experience by moving the festival to Middle Harbor Shoreline Park. Not only did the new location provide an eccentric beach vibe in mid-October weather, but you also had an unbelievable view of the San Francisco skyline no matter where you were. Produced by both Noise Pop and Another Planet Entertainment, TIMF has grown to become one of the West-Coast’s most favored music festivals for many reasons.

DAY ONE: Hip-hop, House, & High-energies. 

One thing that sets TIMF apart from other festivals is how they skillfully incorporate different genres each day to appeal to several different crowds. With only two stages and no overlapping sets, there is never a need to worry about missing your favorite artists, giving the overall festival a stress-free vibe. Kicking off the weekend on a high note, day one of TIMF was filled with hip-hop, house, and high-energy performers. If you want constant dancing, loud bass, and bold, colorful outfits, day one is for you. Headlining the first day was critically acclaimed rapper and songwriter, A$AP Rocky, who closed out his U.S. tour with TIMF as his final show. Other headliners for day one included the second-ever festival performance of Silk City, the new experimental duo between Diplo and Mark Ronson; electronic/new wave singer and songwriter, Santigold; and many other famous artists such as Pusha T, Aminé, Laff Trax featuring Toro y Moi and Nosaj Thing, Polo & Pan, and more.

The legend himself

DAY TWO: Rock & Relax.

If you’re into indie rock and are looking for a more laid-back vibe, day two is for you. The difference in apparel on the second day was apparent, with most attendees in vintage attire and oversized jean jackets. Closing out the festival was the incredible psychedelic rock band Tame Impala, who is prepping for the release of their highly anticipated, soon-to-be-revealed album. Other headliners included Lord Huron, who recently released their third album, Vide Noir; Jungle, a 7-person live band from the UK; folk-rock sensation Courtney Barnett; and POND, Cigarettes After Sex, US Girls, and more.

Art & Interaction

With the advantage of TIMF featuring non-overlapping sets, there are plenty of opportunities to take a break from the stages and check out all the art and interactive tents around the festival grounds. I admire how important art is to TIFM, because most festivals do not offer the opportunity to find your creative outlet amidst the busy crowds and performances. On day one, Molly and I arrived at the festival shortly after the gates opened and were both instantly impressed by how much there was to do. I was blown away by the number of free items that were offered to everyone, from custom sunglasses, to foldable hand fans, to endless Odwalla smoothies and Cliff bars.

There were three major art installations at TIMF, one of which you notice directly after walking through the gates: the 1800-lb manta ray sculpture, named “Fly By” by Peter Hazel and Colin O’Bryan, was influenced by the Spanish architect Antoni Gaudi. This may be the most memorable piece for most attendees due to its prime location overlooking the Bay Bridge and San Francisco skyline. Formerly displayed at Burning Man 2015, Mechatheusisby Barry Crawford presented a giant mechanical squid with moveable tentacles. My personal favorite, the “Cosmic Voyager” by Chromaforms, featured a laser-cut stainless steel sea turtle sculpture where you can observe a futuristic city from beneath its body and even receive a horoscope reading based on the date and time. The festival also featured the “Balloon Chain” by Robert Bose, similar to the ones presented at Coachella, giving the crowd a colorful and heart-warming feeling no matter where you looked.

Good plants

One of my absolute favorite parts of the festival was WorkshopSF’s Camp DIY, where everyone is encouraged to express themselves through several different crafts offered. Whether you’re interested in crafting, sewing, tie-dyeing, or florals, there is something fun for everyone to experience. First, Molly and I checked out the funky temporary tattoo table, where we got to browse through hundreds of free tattoos and shared stories with strangers about why we chose the one we did. Molly got the chance to make her own flower crown while I stamped up some fabric and made myself a patch. This area also featured a unique, remodeled trailer filled with plants that guests are encouraged to walk through, along with a display of one-of-a-kind painted jean jackets by local artists.

The Highlight: Tame Impala.

Without a doubt in my mind, Tame Impala’s long-awaited performance was the highlight of the weekend (and probably my life). Seeing Tame Impala live is not like going to any other show; it is truly a spiritual experience. After waiting over 4 years to hear them live, my expectations were through the roof. With that being said, I was completely mind boggled after their 90-minute-long performance. The psychedelic rock band was scheduled to play at Desert Daze just two days before and unfortunately had their set cut an hour short due to a hazardous electrical storm, so it was clear that they were ready to bounce back and perform their hearts out for the Bay Area. To top it off, they performed their song “Jeremy’s Storm” for the first time in five years for a one-off jam. They even admitted to hardly practicing beforehand, so it was a special experience seeing them improvise live on stage. I have seen hundreds of musicians throughout my life, but nothing will compare to the talent Tame Impala puts out on stage. They are one of those extraordinary bands that sound even better live and I feel so lucky to have witnessed such an exceptional performance.

(Blurry) Tame Impala

Final Thoughts.

Overall, I was blown away by Treasure Island Music Festival and the experience they gave their attendees. It’s no wonder it has become one of the West Coast’s most beloved music festivals – I highly encourage everyone to check it out next October! A good majority of the crowd was 21+, which resulted in a more mature and laid back audience. If you’re legal and looking to enjoy good drinks with good music, this is the perfect festival for you. No matter your age, however, there is always something to do at TIMF. From the all-remarkable performances to the unique art and interactive vendors, this festival stands out above many others. Counting down the days ‘til next October when I get to do it all over again!

Representing KCR!

Review by: Brittany Roache