Watsky and strong opening acts impress at Mr. Smalls

Griffin Sendek | Features Editor
Watsky performed at Mr.Smalls Theater with Camilla Recchio on background vocals and Kush Mody on bass.

Griffin Sendek | Features Editor

02/28/19

My introduction to Watsky’s music was roughly two years ago. After playing a single song I was immediately entranced. I subsequently spent the next few weeks listening to the entirety of Watsky’s discography, and he quickly took the spot of one of my favorite artists. The moment I heard he was coming to Pittsburgh, I purchased tickets almost instantly.

On the 11th stop of the Complaint Album Tour, Watsky performed at Mr. Smalls Theater on Feb. 25. I was surprised he wasn’t going to be performing at a larger venue, but the smaller, more intimate space best suited the kind of performance that Watsky gives.

The concert had two openers, Feed the Biirds and Grieves, both of which I had never heard of before and had no preconceived notion of what to expect. I was more than happy to have gone in blind because Feed the Biirds’ two-person act with Camila Recchio on vocals and Kush Mody on the bass completely blew me away. It was a short performance of three or four songs, including the beautiful “She Came.” Recchio was very engaged with the audience, taking breaks between each of her songs to speak to and crack jokes with the audience.

Feed the Biirds got the concert started on a strong note before Grieves entered the stage getting the whole room hyped up for an excellent night. Fans of Watsky will most likely be fans of Grieves as well, they both have similar styles of rap and methods of conveying their emotions through music.

I had never heard a single song by Grieves before, but the moment the he started rapping I was was dancing along to the thumping beat like there was no tomorrow. From the band’s name alone, I was expecting some remarkably edgy music, but I was pleasantly surprised to find rapper Benjamin Laub performed songs with an unconventional interpretation of love and relationships.

Grieves wrapped up and exited the stage with a roaring applause from the crowd. Grieves’ performance was fantastic and would have been well worth the price of admission alone. But a good concert was just about to become great one, Watsky was up next.

The lights went dark before exploding into an array of colors as Watsky made his entrance. Everyone in the audience was screaming in utter delight, as Watsky kicked off his performance with “Brand New World.”

Watsky is not a performer that simply stands still holding the mic and sings his songs, he was moving his body at every possible moment. He used every inch of space that he had possibly had, whether it be dancing to his heart’s content, jumping up and down, balancing on a beam on the edge of the stage, crowd surfing, Watsky did it all, and never missed a beat.

Watsky is killing two birds with one stone on this tour, having Camila Recchio of Feed the Biirds sing all the background vocals. A big portion of Watsky’s songs have a female vocal backing, and Recchio’s beautiful voice fit each and every song perfectly. I would go as far to say that I want to see an entire album of Watsky songs recorded with her. I desperately hope that they have more chances to collab in the future.

I was delighted to find that even though this was the Complaint Album Tour, Watsky sang a good selection of his older songs as well. “Pink Lemonade” from 2016’s x Infinity was extremely fun to see performed. “Hey A—–e” from 2013’s Cardboard Castles has always been one of my favorites, and seeing it live paired with Recchio’s excellent vocals, was absolutely phenomenal. Watsky and Recchio sat down gave an enchanting, mellowed rendition of “Sloppy Seconds” from Cardboard Castles. This different take on the song was an unexpected but welcome change.

On the initial release of Complaint, I was not the biggest fan compared to his previous work, but being able to witness the tracks live gave me a new found appreciation for the album.

For an encore, Watsky sang Whitecaps from Complaint and gave a grand finale of “Woah Woah Woah” from 2014’s All You Can Do.

This was without a doubt the best concert I have ever been to in my life. My appreciation for Watsky has shot through the roof. I hope he returns to the Pittsburgh area sometime in the near future, because I know for a fact I will be the first one in line.

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